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IVIicrosoft Corporation 

This is Volume Eleven of a complete set of 


consisting of fifteen volumes issued strictly as 
a Limited Edition. In Volume One will be 
found a certificate as to the Limitation of the 
Edition and the Registered Number of this Set. 



J. P. MAHAFFY, D.C.L., Trinity College, Dublin 
EDWARD POSTE, M.A., Oxford University 
J. H. FREESE, M.A., Cambridge University 

Professor of Greek, Johns Hopkins University 


Professor of Greek, Harvard University 


Professor of Latin, Yale University 

Professor of Latin, Columbia University 

Professor of Greek, Princeton University 

Professor of Latin, Cornell University 

Professor of Greek, University of Pennsylvania 


Professor of Latin, Catholic University of America 


Professor of Greek, University of Chicago 


Professor of Greek, University of Michigan 

Professor of Latin, University of Toronto 

Professor of Latin, University of California 

Professor of Latin, Tulane University 



Copyright, 1909, by 

Vincent Parke and Company, 

New York 


Introduction : 

Lucretius, the Poet-Philosopher .... 
By William Augustus Merrill, L.H.D., Professor of 
Latin in the University of California 

De Rerum Natura [Concerning the Nature of 
Things], by Lucretius: 

Abridged by W. H. Mallock, with Translation of 
Passages into English Verse by the Same 

Introduction : 

The Life of Catullus .....:. 57 
By the Rev. James Davies, M.A. 

The Poems of Catullus : 

Translated in the Metres of the Original by Robin- 
son Ellis of Oxford ...... 65 

Introduction : 

The Life of Tibullus ...... 151 

By James Grainger, M.D. 

The Elegies of Tibullus, Including the Poems of 
Sulpicia : 

Translated into English Verse by James Grainger, 
M.D. ......... 162 

Introduction : 

The Life of Propertius . . :.i w 
By Sir Charles Abraham Elton 



The Elegies of Propertius: ^^^^ 

Translated into English Verse by Sir Charles Abra- 
ham Elton ........ 237 

Introduction : 

The Life of Ovid ....... 265 

By the Rev. Alfred Church, M.A. 

The Metamorphoses of Ovid — Books I to IV In- 
clusive : 

Translated into English Prose by Henry T. Riley, 
B.A., of Cambridge University .... 327 



Death of Virginia ...... Frontispiece 

From an engraving after a painting by Vincenzio 

Ovid ^ .. . . 272 

From an old engraving 

The Fates .......... 380 

From a painting by Paul Thumann 

jDllN 2 7 1957 



Professor of Latin in the University of California. 

j|E know very little that is certain about the Hfe 
of Titus Lucretius Carus. Saint Jerome, the 
great theologian and translator of the Bible, 
says that in the year 95 before Christ, Titus 
Lucretius the poet was born, and that he was 
made insane through a love-potion, and that in 
the intervals of his insanity he wrote some books that were 
amended by Cicero, and that he slew himself with his own 
hand in the 44th year of his life. Modern scholars accept 
the date of the poet's death, but attach little significance to the 
remainder of the account. The story of the love-potion 
points to mental disorder brought about by drugs, and Lu- 
cretius' intermittent insanity and his suicide are not improb- 
able. Very likely he was an epileptic. Whether Cicero 
edited the great poem of Lucretius, Concerning the Nature of 
Things, is doubtful and of no importance, for there is no 
trace in it of any editing whatever; and whether Saint Jerome 
meant by Cicero the great orator or his younger brother is 
also uncertain. 

It is in the poem itself that the author reveals his char- 
acter. He was evidently a high-spirited Roman who moved 
in the upper classes of society, well educated in Greek learn- 
ing, but a Roman patriot. There is no evidence of any 
struggle with poverty or of any insecurity of social position ; 
he was apparently a man who was free to pursue the intel- 
lectual life, and who gave himself up with Roman earnestness 
to wrestle with the great theological questions that come to all 


serious minds. He lived in the troublous days of the de- 
clining Republic, a period of great unrest, when the Romans 
had lost the simplicity of life and thought that they had had 
as a plain Italian people. They had ceased to be a nation of 
farmers and tradesmen, ignorant of philosophy, and they no 
longer lived according to the frugal and unimaginative 
standards of a simple and unschooled race. 

From the very beginning the expansion of Roman power 
had brought with it the evil that expansion always brings ; and 
with wealth and power and knowledge came also pride and 
corruption and skepticism. Many there were who accepted 
carelessly the new order of things, but others, like Lucretius, 
men of sincerity of character and of high principle, were 
plunged into deep distress. How were the new and the old 
to be reconciled? Was the old Roman religion true with its 
careful provisions for the needs of men? Did the gods take 
care of the infant at his birth and watch over his tender years, 
visiting him with blessings and punishing him for his faults, 
providing him with a world of beauty to live in and guarding 
him and keeping him from all harm, and finally taking him to 
themselves for another life of blessedness or of suffering, 
according to the character of his earthly career? But how 
explain human suffering, the frequent triumph of evil, the 
pitilessness of Nature, the terrors of earthquake, fire, and 
flood? Greek philosophy had answered these questions in 
many ways and with varying degrees of clearness; but only 
two solutions were commonly accepted by the Romans. One 
was given by the Stoics, who maintained the doctrine of 
divine providence, of faith and obedience, of justice and the 
triumph of the right in the end; and their principles, agreeing 
closely with those of the Roman traditional religion, were ac- 
cepted by many, perhaps by the best, Roman minds. But 
opposed to the Stoics were the Epicureans, who were material- 
ists and scientists, who emphasized physical law rather than 
moral conduct. 

It is always so : one mind will be attracted by ethical ques- 
tions to which natural science will be subordinate, while to 
another, scientific truth will be of the first Importance, and all 
else will be of little consequence. Lucretius approached the 


problem from the physical side, and, granting the premises 
of the Epicurean school, the consequences are logical and 
true. If the world is the result of the blind concurrence of 
atoms, if natural phenomena are due to the working of natural 
law, that is, of the habits of matter, if man is material, includ- 
ing his mind and soul, then there is no room for religion, and 
no future life and no divine providence. And this is the posi- 
tion of Lucretius. After many a long struggle he thought he 
had gained peace of mind, and like many enthusiasts he over- 
estimated the importance of the problem and the solution 
thereof to those who had not passed through an experience 
like his own. His task was plain : to publish the new gospel 
with Roman thoroughness and with the passion and ardor 
that only a profound nature, agitated to its very depths, could 
exhibit. He therefore chose poetry rather than prose as his 
medium. ; his fundamental arguments he took mainly from his 
master Epicurus ; and these he developed, with passionate en- 
thusiasm, in a poetical form that he found in Empedocles and 
Ennius ; but the essential character of the poem is Roman. 

This poem on Nature is the only work that has come 
down to us from Lucretius' hand, and is probably the only 
product of his genius. Its main object is to show that the 
world is governed by natural law without the aid of the gods, 
and that, consequently, religion has no terrors for man. In- 
deed, religion in the ordinary sense of the term ceases to have 
any significance, although the Epicureans inferred the exist- 
ence of the gods who should serve as types of perfection to 
men. living in eternal peace and calm, but "careless of man- 
kind." After establishing his cosmogony through the play 
of natural forces, he confirms to his own satisfaction the 
mortality of the soul, and sketches the origin of society 
through natural development, closing with an explanation of 
meteoric and terrestrial phenomena and with a description of 
the great plague of Athens. Such was no proper end of the 
poem, and there are many other indications that it w^as never 

The De Rerum Natura was closely studied by Horace and 
Virgil, and in the last few centuries has had great indirect 
influence on human thought. Chemists and physicists have 


found in it an anticipation of the atomic theory, and the fol- 
lowers of Darwin and Wallace have seen in it a dim adumbra- 
tion of the evolutionary hypothesis. Modern poets have 
studied it and Tennyson has interpreted most happily the 
author's spirit. Mrs. Browning declares that Lucretius died 
"chief poet on the Tiber side." The real excellence of the 
poem is in its sublimity of thought, its passionate support of 
scientific principles, its relentlessness in logical conclusion, its 
Roman thoroughness and honesty, and its stately movement 
and majestic rhythm. Perhaps nothing has come down to us 
in Latin literature that is more characteristically Roman than 
this sublime poem. 






XJ— 2 



Whom all the pines of Ida shook to see 

Slide from that quiet heaven of hers^ and tempt 

The Trojan, while his neat-herds were abroad; 

Nor her that o'er her wounded hunter wept 

Her Deity false in human-amorous tears; 

Nor whom her beardless apple-arbiter 

Decided fairest. Rather, O ye Gods, 

Poet-like, as the great Sicilian called 

Calliope to grace his golden verse — 

Ay, and this Kypris also — did I take 

That popular name of thine to shadow forth 

The all-generating powers and genial heat 

Of nature, when she strikes through the thick blood 

Of cattle, and light is large, and lambs are glad 

Nosing the mother's udder, and the bird 

Makes his heart voice amid the blaze of flowers: 

Which things appear the work of mighty Gods. 

— Tennyson. 


[Concerning the Nature of Things] 


Mother and mistress of the Roman race. 

Pleasure of gods and men, O fostering 
Venus, whose presence breathes in every place. 

Peopling all soils whence fruits and grasses spring, 
And all the water's navigable ways. 

Water and earth and air and everything. 
Since by thy power alone their life is given 
To all beneath the sliding signs of heaven; 

Goddess, thou comest, and the clouds before thee 
Melt, and the ruffian blasts take flight and fly; 

The daedal lands, they know thee and adore thee. 

And clothe themselves with sweet flowers instantly; 

Whilst pouring down its largest radiance o'er thee, 
In azure calm subsides the rounded sky. 

To overarch thine advent ; and for thee 

A livelier sunlight laughs along the sea. 

For lo, no sooner come the soft and glowing 
Days of the spring, and all the air is stirred 

With amorous breaths of zephyrs freshly blowing, 
Than the first prelude of thy power is heard 

On all sides, in aerial music flowing 
Out of the bill of every pairing bird; 

And every songster feels, on every tree. 

Its small heart pulsing with the power of thee. 

Next the herds feel thee; and the wild fleet races 

Bound o'er the fields, that smile in the bright weather, 


And swim the streaming floods in fordless places, 
Led by thy chain, and captive in thy tether. 

At last through seas and hills, thine influence passes, 
Through field and flood and all the world together, 

And the birds' leafy homes; and thou dost fire 

Each to renew his kind with sweet desire. 

Wherefore, since thou, O lady, only thou 
Art she who guides the world upon its way; 

Nor can aught rise without thee anyhow 
Up into the clear borders of the day, 

Neither can aught without thee ever grow 
Lovely and sweet — to thee, to thee I pray — 

Aid and be near thy suppliant as he sings 

Of nature and the secret ways of things. 

For I have set myself [he goes on], to expound these as 
best I may to my dear friend, the son of the Memmii, in this 
very poem ; and for my affection to him, I would have every 
charm given to my verses. And do thou, my Memmius, so 
far as thou canst in these present troublous times, give an at- 
tentive ear to me, for I am going to explain to you the whole 
system of things; and out of what first elements the world, 
and men, and gods have all alike arisen. I have a teacher — 
Epicurus — who has explained all these things to me; and his 
teachings when first given to men made a new era in their 

When human life, a shame to human eyes. 

Lay sprawling in the mire in foul estate, 
A cowering thing without the strength to rise, 

Held down by fell Religion's heavy weight — 
Religion scowling downward from the skies. 

With hideous head, and vigilant eyes of hate — 
First did a man of Greece presume to raise 
His brows, and give the monster gaze for gaze. 

Him not the tales of all the gods in heaven. 

Nor the heaven's lightnings, nor the menacing roar 

^ The prose portions of the abridgment are based on the translation 
of H. A. J. Munro. 


Of thunder daunted. He was only driven, 
By these vain vauntings, to desire the more 

To burst through Nature's gates, and rive the unriven 
Bars. And he gained the day; and, conqueror, 

His spirit broke beyond our world, and past 

Its flaming walls, and fathomed all the vast. 

And back returning, crowned with victory, he 
Divulged of things the hidden mysteries, 

Laying quite bare what can and cannot be, 
How to each force is set strong boundaries, 

How no power raves unchained, and nought is free. 
So the times change; and now religion lies 

Trampled by us ; and unto us 'tis given 

Fearless with level gaze to scan the heaven. 

Yet fear I lest thou haply deem that thus 
We sin, and enter wicked ways of reason. 

Whereas 'gainst all things good and beauteous 
'Tis oft religion does the foulest treason. 

Has not the tale of Aulis come to us, 
And those great chiefs who, in the windless season. 

Bade young Iphianassa's form be la^'d 

Upon the altar of the Trivian maid? 

Soon as the fillet round her virgin hair 
Fell in its equal lengths down either cheek, — 

Soon as she saw her father standing there. 
Sad, by the altar, without power to speak. 

And at his side the murderous minister. 

Hiding the knife, and many a faithful Greek 

Weeping — her knees grew weak, and with no sound 

She sank, in speechless terror, on the ground. 

But nought availed it in that hour accurst 
To save the maid from such a doom as this, 

That her lips were the baby lips that first 

Called the king father with their cries and kiss. 

For round her came the strong men, and none durst 
Refuse to do what cruel part was his; 

So silently they raised her up, and bore her. 

All quivering, to the deadly shrine before her. 


And as they bore her, ne'er a golden lyre 

Rang round her coming with a bridal strain; 

But in the very season of desire, 

A stainless maiden, amid bloody stain, 

She died — a victim felled by its own sire — 
That so the ships the wished-for wind might gain, 

And air pufif out their canvas. Learn thou, then, 

To what damned deeds religion urges men. 

Yes, and you too, Memmius, even you, will some time or 
other seek to fall away, and cower under the terrors of this 
false religion. And, indeed, what safeguard have you? 
How will you steel yourself against the terrors of the priests, 
who have ever a life to come with which to threaten you, and 
in which torments everlasting may, as they say, be yours? 
Did you know that death was death indeed, then you might 
keep a stout heart, and brave them. But now what do men 
know of the soul? They know neither its nature nor its 
origin — neither whence it came nor whither it is going. How 
shall they know, then, what may not be in store for it? What 
shall we do then? Our only hope is in this. Let us grasp 
first the principles of things; let us learn by what laws the 
stars and the sun move ; how the earth was formed, and how 
all things live and grow upon it. And above all, let us find 
out by reason what the soul and mind consists of, and what 
are the laws of those things whence all our fears arise — imag- 
ination, and dreams, and madness. 

Hard it is in Latin verses to expound the teachings of the 
Greeks. Our tongue is poor and wanting. No one has used 
it yet to treat such themes as these. And yet for your sake, 
and the pleasure of your sweet friendship, I will not be 
daunted. I will essay to do my best. 

This darkness, then, this terrible darkness, in which the 
human race is at present cowering, can be dispelled, not by 
any sunlight, nor the lucid darts of day, but by the aspect and 
the law of Nature — 

For fear takes hold upon the human breast. 
When we see many things by Nature done, 
Whereof the ways and means are known to none. 


And accordingly we ascribe these phenomena to the gods. 
One thing, therefore, at starting, I will tell you first — how 
that nothing can be produced from nothing. And when you 
are once made certain of that, you shall see clearly how all 
things can be produced and done without the hand of gods. 

Lucretius then goes on, in the next two hundred verses, 
to explain that the elements of all things are atoms and void, 
supporting his theory by arguments that have been described 
already. Atoms and void are both alike eternal. All com- 
posite things may pass away, but these remain from everlast- 
ing. Nothing can be born from nothing; and nothing, when 
born, can go back to nothing: — 

Things seem to die, but die not. The spring showers 

Die on the bosom of the motherly earth, 
But rise again in fruits and leaves and flowers. 

And every death is nothing but a birth. 

Atoms, then, and empty space [he goes on] — these, my 
friends, are all that really is. You can name nothing that is 
not a property of these, or else an accident : — 

That is a property which cannot be 

Disjoined from a thing and separate 
Without the said thing's death. Fluidity 

Is thus a property of water; weight 
Is of a stone. Whilst riches, poverty, ^ 

Slavery, freedom, concord, war and hate, 
Which change, and not inhere in things of sense, 
We name not properties, but accidents. 

The Trojan war, for instance, was simply an accident of 
atoms and empty space ; nor, but for these, would it ever have 
come to pass — 

For had things no material substance thus, 

Nor void to move in, never had the fire 
Out of the fairest child of Tyndarus 

Lit in the Phrygian's breast the fell desire. 


And put the torch to war; nor Pergamus 

Had seen the dumb and lifeless steed draw nigh her, 
Out of whose flanks the midnight warriors came, 
Who ended all, and wrapt the towers in flame. 

Remember then, I again tell you, that here are the two 
things that alone really are, infinite space and atoms — atoms 
indivisible, indestructible, that have endured, and that will en- 
dure for ever. Wherefore, they who held fire to be the one 
substance of things, and the sum to have been formed out of 
fire alone, are, of all philosophers, furthest from the truth. 
Chief of this band is Heraclitus, a declarer of dark sentences, 
and a juggler with words. 

More famous he with babbling man and vain, 
Amongst the Greeks, than those that strive to know 

The truth indeed. For fools are always fain 
To measure meanings by the gaudy show 

Of twisted words that hide them. And a strain 
That fills their ears with honeyed overflow 

Of phrase and music, is at once decreed 

Surely to hold the very truth indeed. 

Lucretius then goes on to give the reasons why the theory 
of Heraclitus is untenable, and how it contradicts the very 
premises that he himself starts with. Nor any wiser are those 
who hold that things have four first beginnings, though some 
of those who have taught this, have been wise — wise above 
measure is other ways. 

Chief of these 
Is he of Agrigent, Empedocles. 

Him in its three-shored bounds that isle of yore 
Reared, which the wild Ionian water laves. 

Round curving bays and headlands, evermore 
Splashing the brine up out of its green waves. 

Here does the racing sea withhold the shore 
Of Italy; and here Charybdis raves; 

And here does rumbling ^tna moan and strain 

For strength to lighten at the skies again. 


Fair is that land, and all men hold it fair; 

Its sons who guard its soil are fierce and free, 
And all rich things, and gladsome things are there, 

Yet nothing ever was there, nor shall be. 
More glorious than this great philosopher — 

More holy, marvellous, and dear than he : 
Yea, and with such a strength his mighty line 
Shouts through the earth — he seems a voice divine. 

And yet, says Lucretius, in spite of all this, he has gone 
astray about the first beginnings of things, as did also 
A'naxagoras and all the rest, partly from their wrong concep- 
tions of matter, partly because they denied the reality of 
empty space. And all these faults of theirs he points out in 
a way that we have already analysed. 

And now mark [he goes on] what remains to be known, 
and hear it more distinctly. For my mind does not fail to 
perceive how dark these things are; but yet, despite all diffi- 
culties — 

Yet my heart smarting with desire for praise, 

Me urges on to sing of themes like these, 
And that great longing to pour forth my lays 

Constrains me, and the loved Pierides, 
Whose pathless mountain-haunts I now explore. 
And glades where no man's foot has fallen before. 

Ah sweet, ah sweet, to approach the untainted springs, 

And quaff the virgin waters cool and clear. 
And cull the flowers that have been unknown things 

To all men heretofore ! and yet more dear 
When mine shall be the adventurous hand that brings 

A crown for mine own brows, from places where 
The Muse has deigned to grant a crown for none. 
Save for my favoured brows, and mine alone. 

Nor am I vain, Memmius, in such vaunts as these ; for I 
am struggling to teach great things, and to release the human 
mind from the fetters of religious fear; and dark as my sub-» 


ject is, my song is clear and lucid, and over the crabbed things 
I teach, I lay the Muses' charm. 

And now thus far I have taught you how solid bodies 
of matter fly about ever unvanquished through all time. I 
have next another thing to teach you. I must show you 
there is no limit to the sum of these atoms, and likewise that 
there is no limit to the space they move in. As to space, I 
need but ask you, how can that be bounded? For whatever 
bounds it, that thing must itself be bounded likewise ; and to 
this bounding thing there must be a bound again, and so on 
for ever and ever throughout all immensity. Suppose, how- 
ever, for a moment, all existing space to be bounded, and that 
a man runs forward to the uttermost borders, and stands upon 
the last verge of things, and then hurls forward a winged 
javelin, — suppose you that the dart, when hurled by the vivid 
force, shall take its way to the point the darter aimed at, or 
that something will take its stand in the path of its flight, and 
arrest it? For one or other of these things must happen. 
There is a dilemma here that you never can escape from. 
Place your limit of things as far away as it shall please you, 
I will dog your steps till you have come to the utmost borders, 
and I will ask you what then becomes of your javelin. Surely 
you must see what the end of this must be : — 

The air bounds off the hills, the hills the air; 

Earth bounds the ocean, ocean bounds the lands; 
But the unbounded All is everywhere. 

Lucretius here adds various other proofs of the infinity 
of empty space, and the infinite number of the atoms, all of 
which have been already stated. Such then, he exclaims, 
again reiterating his teaching — 

Such is the nature then of empty space, 

The void above, beneath us, and around. 
That not the thunderbolt with pauseless pace. 

Hurtling for ever through the unplumbed profound 
Of time, would find an ending to its race. 

Or e'er grown nearer to the boundless bound. 
So huge a room around, beneath, above, 
Yawns, in which all things being, are and move. 


The chance to which our world owes itself needed infinite 
atoms for its production, infinite trials, and infinite failures, 
before the present combination of things arose. 

For blindly, blindly, and without design, 
Did these first atoms their first meetings try; 

No ordering thought was there, no will divine 
To guide them ; but through infinite time gone by 

Tossed and tormented they essayed to join. 

And clashed through the void space tempestuously, 

Until at last that certain whirl began. 

Which slowly formed the earth and heaven and man. 

And now, my Memmius, be far from trusting those that 
say all thing press towards the centre, and that there are men 
beneath the earth, walking with their heads downwards. For 
the universe being infinite, how can there be any centre to it? 
And even grant that it had a centre, no heavy body could 
abide there; for everything that has w^eight must be for ever 
and for ever falling, unless some rebound send it upwards. 

Space, then, I have already proved to be infinite; and 
space being infinite, matter must be infinite also ; lest, after the 
winged fashion of flame, the walls of the world break up 
suddenly, and fly along the mighty void, and the heavens fall 
upon the earth, and the earth break up from beneath the 
heaven, and the whole great universe in a single moment 

Melt and be gone, and nothing take its place 
But viewless atoms and deserted space. 


'Tis sweet when tempests roar upon the sea 
To watch from land another's deep distress 

Amongst the waves — his toil and misery: 
Not that his sorrow makes our happiness. 

But that some sweetness there must ever be 
Watching what sorrows we do not possess: 

So, too, 'tis sweet to safely view from far 

Gleam o'er the plains the savage ways of war. 


But sweeter far to look with purged eyes 

Down from the battlements and topmost towers 

Of learning, those high bastions of the wise, 
And far below us see this world of ours, 

The vain crowds wandering blindly, led by lies, 
Spending in pride and wrangling all their powers. 

So far below — the pigmy toil and strife 

The pain and piteous rivalries of life. 

O peoples miserable ! O fools and blind ! 

What might you cast o'er all the days of man ! 
And in that night before you and behind 

What perils prowl ! But you nor will nor can 
See that the treasure of a tranquil mind 

Is all that Nature pleads for, for this span, 
So that between our birth and grave we gain 
Some quiet pleasures, and a pause from pain. 

Wherefore we see that for the body's need 
A pause from pain almost itself suffices. 

For only let our life from pain be freed, 
It oft itself with its own smile entices. 

And fills our healthy hearts with joys indeed. 
That leave us small desire for art's devices. 

Nor do we sigh for more in hours like these, 

Rich in our wealth of sweet simplicities. 

What though about the halls no silent band 

Of golden boys on many a pedestal 
Dangle their hanging lamps from outstretched hand, 

To flare along the midnight festival — 
Though on our board no priceless vessels stand, 

Nor gold nor silver fret the dazzling wall. 
Nor does the soft voluptuous air resound 
From gilded ceilings with the cithern's sound; 

The grass is ours, and sweeter sounds than these, 
As down we couch us by the babbling spring. 

And overhead we hear the branching trees 

That shade us, whisper; and for food we bring 

Only the country's simple luxuries. 

Ah, sweet is this, and sweetest in the spring, 

When the sun goes through all the balmy hours. 

And all the green earth's lap is filled with flowers ! 


These. Memmius, these are this life's true enjoyments; 
not the seducing pleasures given by wealth and art. Will you 
get rid of a fever more quickly if you toss under a purple 
coverlet than under the blanket of a poor man? Just then as 
treasures, and high birth, and the pomp of kingly power, 
minister nothing to the body's health, push thy thought but a 
small step further, and you will see they minister nothing to 
the mind alst) : unless, indeed, you find that looking on the 
proud array of war, and the strength of obedient legions, your 
mind grows and swells with a haughtier strength also, and the 
scruples of religion are at once scared away from it, and the 
fears of death grow faint, and you realise your own power 
and greatness. But if we see that to talk like this is folly, 
and that the fear of death cares nothing for human arms and 
armies, but that it and all other sorrows stalk menacing and 
unabashed through courts and palaces, and flinch nothing at 
the glitter of gold and purple, how can you doubt but that 
reason alone can daunt them? For what is all this life of 
ours? It is a struggle in the dark, and in this dark men are 
as children. They quake and quiver at they know not what, 
and start aside at objects which in the daylight they would 
only laugh at. Light then, more light, — this is the thing we 
need for the liberation of man; but it is not outer light, it is 
the inner light of reason — 

Of reason searching Nature's secret way. 
And not the sun, nor lucid darts of day. 

And now mark, and I will explain to you the motions of 
the bodies of matter: how things are begotten and broken 
up again, and with what speed they go moving through the 
great void. For verily in movement all things about us are, 
perpetually wearing away, perpetually re-begotten. Some 
nations wax, others wane, and in a brief space the races of 
living things are changed, and, like runners, hand over the 
lamp of life. 

Here Lucretius goes on to explain more in detail the 
everlasting motion of the atoms, the way they strike, the way 


they rebound, and the ways in which they become intertangled. 
They move, he says, as the motes move in a sunbeam, which 
you may see streaming through a dark chamber, and in the 
apparent void mingle in the hght of the rays, and, as in 
never-ending conflict, skirmish and give battle, combating 
in troops and never halting, driven about in frequent meet- 
ings and partings, so that you may guess from this what it is 
for first beginnings of things to be for ever tossing about in 
the great void. So far as it goes, a small thing may give 
an illustration of a great thing, and put you on the track of 

Now how swiftly [he continues] these atoms move, Mem- 
mius, you may learn from this : — 

When first the morning sprinkles earth with light, 
And in the forest's lone heart everywhere 

The birds awaken, and with fluttering flight 
Pour out their flutings on the tender air; 

— at such a time we see how in a moment, in a single moment, 
the sun, far off though he be, darts his light through the 
whole creation, and clothes everything with his brightness. 
But the sun's rays have to travel through air, and the air 
retards their course ; and therefore they move slowly when 
compared with the atoms, which move only through pure and 
empty space, and which hurry on and on, not held back by 

But some, ignorant of the nature of matter, say that with- 
out the providence of the gods the world could not have come 
to be what it has, nor the seasons vary in such nice con- 
formity to the ways of men. Wanderers they from the 
true course of reason. For even if I did not know what first 
beginnings were, I could still maintain that the earth and 
heaven were never the work of any divine intelligence, — so 
great are the defects with which they stand encumbered. 
All which, Memmius, I will by-and-by make clear to you; 
but we will now go on to explain what is yet to be told of 


Lucretius now goes on to deal with the primary down- 
ward tendency of atoms, and to account for the upward 
courses they take, through blows and reboundings, and being 
squeezed upwards out of solidifying substances. Next he 
explains that uncertain sideways movement, which is the one 
respect in which the uniformity of atomic movement is broken, 
and which he here proclaims to be the origin, and the only 
possible origin, of the free-will of living beings. 

Then he goes on to explain that the laws of matter have 
been the same for ever; that it is the nature of matter to be 
for ever moving; and that though things seem to be now at 
rest, their atoms are still as unresting as they were at the 
beginning. Nor need you wonder at this, he says ; for when 
mighty legions fill in their courses all the places of the plains, 
in the mimicry of war, the glitter of them lifts itself up to 
the sky, and the whole earth about glitters with brass, and a 
noise is made beneath by the trampling of the mighty ones, 
and the mountains smitten by the shouting hurl the voices 
upwards to the stars of heaven, and all the wheeling horse- 
men scour the plains, and make them tremble with the 
charge : — 

Yet some space is there in the far-off hills 
Whence all this storm of chargers seems to rest, 
A still light brooding on the broad plain's breast. 

Lucretius now goes on to show that the atoms must be of 
various shapes, the kinds of things produced by them are so 
different, — fluids, solids, and airs, tastes and smells. Were 
not the seeds of different shapes, and each special substance 
made of special seeds, how could the species of animals re- 
main alike, and never vary? or how could parent transmit to 
child that special something by which the two mutually recog- 
nise each other? For this we see that even the beasts can do ; 
and they are just as well known to each other as human beings 

Thus oft before our pillared sanctuaries, 

When the lit altars lift their fragrant blaze, 
A calf pours forth its warm life's blood, and dies; 
But she, the mother, in her lone amaze 


Goes through the fields, and still can recognize 
Her own one's cloven footfalls in the ways. 
And looks to find it, and her eyes grow wild 
With wondering for her unreturning child. 

Then from her mouth breaks forth the desolate moan 
Through all the leafy groves, and she gives o'er 

Her search, only she oft goes back alone 
To that bleak stall her child shall know no more ; 

Nor tender willows, nor lush grasses grown 

Sweet with the dew-fall, nor clear streams that pour 

With brimming lips their waves along the plain, 

Can tempt her mouth, nor ease her breast of pain. 

Remember then, says Lucretius, that the atoms have vari- 
ous shapes; but the number of such shapes is finite, though 
of atoms of each shape the number must be infinite : for since 
the difference of shape is finite, those which are Hke are 
infinite, or the sum of matter will be finite. All this he draws 
out at length, urging all the arguments that have been de- 
scribed already. 

And thus, he says, out of infinite matter, and through 
infinite space, things as they are continue, for ever being 
destroyed and for ever again renewed ; nor can death-dealing 
motions keep the mastery always, nor entomb existence for 
evermore, nor, on the other hand, can the birth and increase- 
giving motions of things preserve them always after they are 

Thus from the depths of all eternity 

The unwearying atoms wage a dubious war; 
And now with surging life doth victory lie. 

And now anon is death the conqueror; 
And with the funeral wail, the baby's cry 

Blends, as it opes its eyes on daylight's shore: 
Nor ever morning broke that failed to hear 
The infant's bleatings and the mourner's tear. 

And herein, Memmius, it Is most fit you should remember 
that there is nothing that is known by sense that consists of 
one kind of seed ; all is formed by a mixture of divers atoms. 
And when a thing has many properties, you must know it is 


a compound of seeds of many shapes. Such a compound 
is the great earth we Hve on, for her properties, as we can all 
see, are many. For she brings forth fires, and the great seas, 
and crops, and joyous trees, and the bodies of living things. 
Wherefore, of gods, and men, and beasts, she alone has been 
named the mother. Of her the Greek poets sang, that, borne 
on her towering chariot, she comes driving a yoke of lions. 
They have yoked to her car the beasts, to show that nature, 
however savage, should be softened by the care of parents. 
They have crowned her head with a mural crown, because, 
fortified in strong positions, she sustains cities. Phrygian 
bands escort her, for in Phrygia the story is that the first 
corn grew; and Galli, too, are her guardians, to show that 
they who have done violence to the divinity of the mother, 
are unworthy to bring a living offspring to the daylight. 

The tight-stretched timbrels thunder round her way, 
The sounding cymbals clash, and cry Prepare! 

The threatening horns with hoarser music bray. 
And hollow pipes are loud upon the air; 

And swords are borne before her, sharp to slay — 
Emblems of rage to thankless souls that dare 

Neglect the Queen ; till holy fear has birth 

Of the great Mother over all the earth. 

Therefore when first she slowly comes progressing 
Through mighty cities, and with soundless tongue 

Breathes over men the dumb unworded blessing, 
Down in her path are brass and silver flung, 

A bounteous largess, mortal thanks expressing; 
And flowers are showered by all the adoring throng, 

Till on the Mother and her train there falls 

A snowstorm of soft-settling rose-petals. 

But all this escort and progress are only symbolism. It 
is beautifully told and well set forth, but it is very far re- 
moved from true reason. For the nature of the gods must 
enjoy supreme repose, and know neither care nor labour ; 
for no pain mars it, nor can aught we do appease it or make 
it angry. And if any one choose to call the sea Neptune, and 
XI— 3 


corn Ceres, and would rather use the word Bacchus than the 
word wine, let us suffer him to say in this sense that the earth 
is mother of gods, if he only forbears in earnest to sully his 
soul with the stain of foul religion. 

For all this while the earth is blind and dumb, 

It neither knows, nor thinks, nor hears, nor feels, 
But blindly in it various seeds unite, 
And blindly these break forth, and reach the light. 

But though all things, Lucretius goes on, are composed 
of many seeds, it is evident that these combinations follow 
some laws, and only certain set combinations are possible by 
the nature of things. The uniformity of nature shows us 
this ; and you may learn it, too, from considering what the 
atoms are themselves. You must know, too, that first begin- 
nings have themselves no sensible qualities. In especial, you 
must remember that they are without colour. Lucretius gives 
many reasons for this, — more particularly, that colour cannot 
exist without light, and that it varies according to what way 
the light falls upon it. 

After this fashion does the ringdove's down 
Change in the sun, and shift its plumy sheen; 

Now all a poppy's dark vermilion, 

Now coral, glimmering over emerald green. 

So too the peacock, saturate with sun 
O'er all its sweep of trailing tail, is seen 

To quiver in the light with varying dyes. 

And all the hues inconstant in its eyes. 

Lucretius goes on with his reasons why atoms cannot 
have either voice, or smell, or sense, or any sensible qualities 
whatsoever. Life has arisen out of the lifeless, as we see 
even now worms arising out of clods, though in the case of 
the higher animals the lifeless matter has to go througli 
many stages ; and only through special combinations of circum- 
stances can it at last break forth into life and consciousness. 
But if any one shall say that sense may be so far begotten 
out of no-sensation, by a process of change or by a kind of 


birth, all we have to show to such a man is, that this change 
and birth can only happen in obedience to fixed laws, and 
under fixed conditions. Above all, the senses cannot exist 
in any body, till the living nature of that body has been begot- 
ten ; for till then, the atoms that will make up the principles 
of life and feeling are wandering far and wide — in air and 
earth, in flowers and trees and rivers. Common-sense will 
tell you that all this must be so. For did the atoms live, what 
then? Think of the picture you would have to form of 

Sure, had they life, these seeds of things, why then 

Each separate particle would laugh and cry- 
By its small self, and speculate like men — 
What were my own first seeds, and whence am I ? 

Wherefore be assured, Memmius, that we have all arisen 
out of lifeless things — 

And learn 
That what of us was taken from the dust 
Will surely one day to the dust return ; 
And what the air has lent us, heaven will bear 
Away and render back its own to air. 

For death is not an extinction of matter, — it is a change 
and a dissolution only. The atoms are like the letters of an 
alphabet, for ever shifting their places, and clustering into 
new words, and these words again clustering into new verses. 

And now, we entreat you, apply your mind to reason. 
For a new matter struggles earnestly to gain your ears; and 
remember this, that the simplest thing, if new, is at first hard 
to be realised; and the hardest thing grows easy when we 
have known it long enough. 

Lift up your eyes, consider the blue sky. 

And all the multitudes of wandering signs 
It holds within its hollows : mark on high 

How shines the sun, and how the clear moon shines. 
Supposing this great vision suddenly 

Broke on the gaze of man, my soul divines 
That to the astonished nations it would seem 
A mist, a fancy, a desire, a dream. 


And yet how little, it is so familiar, do we now heed it! 
Wonder not, therefore, if I lead your spirit on a farther and 
a more adventurous voyage, and carry you past the walls of 
heaven and the bounding blue, and show you what is there, 
far yonder, in the bottomless unplumbed depths, to which the 
spirit ever yearns to look forward, and to which the mind's 
inner self reaches in free and unhindered flight. There then, 
in the space beyond, where the atoms are for ever flying, are 
other worlds than ours, woven as ours was out of flying atoms, 
and the blind clash of them. Our universe is but one out 
of a countless number. As a man is but one amongst many 
men, so is our universe but one amongst many universes. 
And through all these runs a single law. They have risen in 
the same way, they are sustained in the same way; and in 
the same way, and by a like necessity, they will all one day 
perish. Do but realise this, and the whole scheme of things 
will grow clearer to you, and you will see how — 

Rid of her haughty masters, straight with ease 
Does nature work, and willingly sustains 

Her frame, and asks no aid of deities. 

For of those holy gods who haunt the plains 

Of Ether, and for aye abide in peace, 

I ask, could such as they are hold the reins 

Of all the worlds, or in their courses keep 

The forces of the immeasurable deep? 

Whose are the hands could make the stars to roll 
Through all their courses, and the fruitful clod 

Foster the while with sunlight, always whole, 
A multiplied but undivided god; 

And strike with bellowing thunders from the pole. 
Now his own temples, now the unbending sod ; 

And now in deserts those vain lightnings try 

That strike the pure, and pass the guilty by ? 

And this too, Memmius, you must know as well. Each 
of these countless universes has grown from small to 
greater, and the bulk of them has been added to by seeds 
dropped down upon them out of the boundless space; and, in 


like manner, they are diminished and divided, for their seeds 
get loose, and the boundless space receives them back again. 
And as plants and animals are born, increase in stature and 
in strength, and then wax old and die, so is it with the worlds 
also. And this world of ours, as many a sign shows us, is 
now well stricken in years, and the time of its dissolution is 
drawing nigh. With each return of its seasons its strength 
gets more feeble. Once goodly crops and grasses sprang 
from the teeming soil without labour. Now, labour as we 
will, but a scant reward is yielded. And now the aged 
ploughman shakes his head, and sighs to think of the earth's 
exuberance in the days when he was 5^oung. And the sor- 
rowful planter complains of his shrivelled vines, and wearies 
heaven with his prayers, and comprehends not that all things 
are gradually wasting away, and passing to the grave, quite 
worn out by age and length of days. 



Thou who wert first in drowning depths of night 

To lift aloft so clear a lamp, whose rays 
Strike along life, and put the shades to flight — 

Thee, thee, chief glory of the Grecian race, 
I strive to follow, humbly and aright. 

And my feet in thy very footprints place; 
Not that thy rival I would dare to be. 
But that I love, and loving follow thee. 

Thy rival! Nay; can swallows rival swans? 

Or thunder-footed steeds competitors 
Find 'mongst the she-goat's gamb'ling little ones? 

Oh, first and best of all discoverers, 
We are but bees along the flowery lawns. 

Who rifle for our food thy fields of verse. 
And on thy golden maxims pause and prey — 
All-gold, and worthy to endure for aye. 

For lo ! no sooner does thy povv-erful line 
Loud through the world the scheme of Nature sing. 


Than the mind hears, and at that note of thine 
Its flocks of phantom terrors take to wing. 

The world's walls rot apart, and I divine 
With opened eyes the ways of everything, 

And how through Nature's void immensity 

Things were not, were, and are, and cease to be. 

And lo ! the gods appear, the immortal races, 

Visible in the lucent windless air 
That fills their quiet blest abiding-places, 

Which never noisy storm nor storm-clouds dare 
To trouble, where the frost's tooth leaves no traces. 

And downwards no white falling snowflakes fare. 
But on their lips the laughters never cease, 
Nor want nor pain invades their ageless peace. 

But on the other hand we search in vain. 

For those swart forms, the fearful deities 
Of Hell. Our vision roams the whole inane. 

But aught like Acheron it nowhere sees. 
And I, when I to this high view attain. 

Feel on my soul a maddening rapture seize, 
And next a trembling, that thy hand should dare 
Thus to the quick to lay all Nature bare. 

And now, says Lucretius, since I have shown what atoms 
are, their number, their shape, and their motions, and how all 
things can be produced out of them, I will next reveal the 
nature of the mind and soul that the dream of Acheron may 
be once and for all dispelled, which at present troubles life to 
its inmost depth, casts a chill and deathly shade over our 
whole existence, and leaves a taint and a bitterness in every 
pleasure. True it is that we often hear men vaunt that they 
have no fear of death, and that the ills and hardships of life 
are all they really flinch from. But these are merely boasters. 
Bring them into any trouble or danger, and you will see how 
they betake themselves to their knees, whining to their gods, 
and forgetful of all their bravery. Such fearless firmness as 
these men feign to have, can be given only by knowledge and 
calm reason. Listen to me, then, and I will lead you to it : — 


First, then, I say the mind, which often we 

Call also understanding, wherein dwells 
The power that rules our whole vitality, 

Is part of man, as is whatever else 
Goes to make up his frame, as hands, feet, knees; 

Nor is it, as a foolish Greek school tells, 
A harmony of all the members, spread 
As health is, everywhere from feet to head. 

But it resides in one particular place, just as sight, hearing, 
and smell do. Lucretius here goes on in detail to explain the 
nature of the mind, how it is connected with the vital soul, 
and how the two are connected with the body, how they gov- 
ern it and are contained by it, how the former is seated in 
heart, and how the latter pervades the whole frame. He 
then describes how the mind touches the soul and moves it, 
and how the soul in turn touches the body ; and from this he 
argues that they must of necessity be corporeal, for where 
there is no corporeality, there is no touch. With first begin- 
nings, then, he says, interlaced from their earliest birth, are 
mind and body fashioned, and gifted with a life of joint part- 
nership; and it is plain that the faculty of the body and of 
the mind cannot feel separately, each alone without the 
power of the other, but sense is kindled throughout our flesh 
and blown into a flame between the two, by joint motions on 
the part of both. 

And now (he goes on) I will show you that mind and soul 
are mortal; and in what I have now to say, remember that 
I still use the words mind and soul indifferently, and that 
what I say of the one will apply in the same way to the other, 
since both make up one thing, and are one single substance. 
First of all, then, remember of how fine a substance I have 
shown the soul to be, and how far more sensitive than any 
other thing, — 

More than a drifting smoke, or ductile river; 

For even shapes of mists and smoke in dreams. 
Soon as they touch the mind will make it quiver, 

As when in sleep the votive altar steams 
Before our sight ; for even dreams like these 
Come from the touch of films and images. 


Well, then, since you see that water is scattered when the 
vessel that held it is broken, and the mists melt away into the 
air, how can you doubt that the soul will one day do likewise 
when its body goes to pieces? Again, we see that the mind 
is born with the body, grows strong with the body, and also 
with the body once more grows frail and feeble: — 

It follows then that when this life is past, 
It goes an outcast from the body's door, 

And dies like smoke along the driving blast. 
We with the flesh beheld it born and rise 
To strength ; and with the flesh it fades and dies. 

And now consider this too. The body is subject to many 
diseases, and with many of these the soul is affected also. 
Often the reason wanders, often the reason is for a time 
quite slain. Such loss of reason comes from the powers of 
the mind and soul being dissevered, "and riven and forced 
asunder by the same baneful malady as the body is. What 
shall we think then? — 

Even in the body thus the soul is troubled 
And scarce can hold its fluttering frame together; 

How should it live then, when, with force redoubled, 
Naked it feels the air and angry weather? 

Again, Lucretius goes on, seeds of the soul are evidently 
left in the body after death, because worms and living things 
are bred out of it. And a soul that can be thus divided cannot 
be immortal. For it is impossible to think that each of these 
worms has an immortal soul of its own, that immediately at 
the birth of its body makes its way into it, and that thus many 
thousands of souls meet together in a place from whichone 
has been withdrawn, and either find bodies ready made for 
them, or set each about making a body for itself. This is 
glaringly absurd : — 

For why should souls, if they can cast away 

Their mortal carcasses, and still live on, 
Thus toil to build themselves a den of clay? 

Since when with bodies they are clothed upon 


They straight grow heirs to sickness and decay, 

And through them all the body's grief has gone. 
Nor for themselves could souls contrive to build 
Such prison-pens, how much soe'er they willed. 

Lucretius here brings forward several other arguments, 
and then he once more thus returns to this one : — 

Again, when creatures' bodies are preparing, 

Sure we should laugh to see the souls stand by — 

Bands of immortals at each other glaring 
About that mortal house in rivalry, 

Each longing he may be the first to fare in, 
And each braced up to push his best and try. 

Unless they settle it on this condition. 

That who comes first shall have the first admission. 

Again, if more arguments are still needed, for everything 
there is a fixed place appointed ; nor do fishes live in the land, 
trees in the clouds, nor the sap of trees in stones. And thus 
the nature of mind cannot come into being without the body, 
nor exist away from it. And therefore, when the body has 
died, we must admit that the soul is perished. Every argu- 
ment points to this conclusion. We cannot doubt it ; we can- 
not escape from it. Analogy, observation, and common- 
sense, all point the same way, and confirm us in a complete 
certitude : — 

Death is for us then but a noise and name. 
Since the mind dies, and hurts us not a jot; 

As in bygone times when Carthage came 
To battle, we and ours were troubled not. 

Nor heeded though the whole earth's shuddering frame 
Reeled with the stamp of armies, and the lot 

Of things was doubtful, to which lords should fall 

The land and seas and all the rule of all; 

So, too, when we and ours shall be no more. 

And there has come the eternal separation 
Of flesh and spirit, which, conjoined before, 

Made us ourselves, there will be no sensation; 


We should not hear were all the world at war; 

Nor shall we, in its last dilapidation, 
When the heavens fall, and earth's foundations flee. 
We shall nor feel, nor hear, nor know, nor see. 

And even — if for a moment we may imagine the impossi- 
ble — even should the soul still survive the body, what is tliat 
to us ? For we are neither soul nor body, but we are a single 
being fashioned out of the wedlock of the two. Nor, again, 
if time should gather up our matter after death, and again 
remould it into the very beings we now are, that is nothing to 
us, when once the chain of our consciousness has been snapped 
asunder. Perhaps we may have existed before : that gives 
us no sorrow. Suppose we can exist again : this need give 
us no more trouble than that. 

Therefore, when you see a man bemoaning his hard case, 
that after death his body will either rot in the grave, or be 
consumed by fire, or be torn by wild beasts, the sound his 
mouth gives forth betrays a flaw somewhere. He does not 
really grant the conclusion he professes to grant. He has not 
with his whole mind realised that he will wholly die. The 
inveterate fancy still clings to him that there will still be a 
surviving something, that living will lament about its own 
death : — 

Perplexed he argnes, from the fallacy 

Of that surviving self not wholly freed. 
Hence he bewaijs his bitter doom — to die; 

Nor does he see that when he dies indeed, 
No second he will still remain to cry, 

Watching its own cold body burn or bleed. 
O fool ! to fear the wild-beast's ravening claw, 
Or that torn burial of its mouth and maw. 

For lo ! if this be fearful, let me learn 

Is it more fearful than if friends should place 

Thy decent limbs upon the pyre and burn 
Sweet frankincense? or smother up thy face 

With honey in the balm-containing urn? 
Or if you merely lay beneath the rays 

Of heaven on some cold rock ? or damp and cold 

If on thine eyelids lay a load of mould? 


" Thou not again shalt see thy dear home's door, 
Nor thy dear wife and children come to throw 

Their arms round thee, and ask for kisses more. 
And through thy heart make quiet comfort go: 

Out of thy hands hath slipped the precious store 
Thou hoardest for thine own," men say, " and lo, 

All thou desired is gone ! " but never say, 

" All the desires as well hath passed away." 

Ah! could they only see this, and could borrow 

True words, to tell what things in death abide thee ! 

"Thou shalt lie soothed in sleep that knows no morrow. 
Nor ever cark nor care again betide thee : 

Friend, thou wilt say thy long good-bye to sorrow, 
And ours will be the pangs, who weep beside thee. 

And watch thy dear familiar body burn, 

And leave us but the ashes and the urn." 

Often, too, at feasts men say, as they drink, and wreathe 
their garlands round them, " Miserable creatures that we are ! 
our joys are short; they will soon be part and parcel of the 
past, and the past never gives its own back again." As if 
after death they would ever know thirst, and be pining for 
the wine-cup that will never more be allowed them! 

Once more, could Nature only speak to us, how would 
she deride us foolish mortals and reprove us ! " Fools," she 
would say, " and sickly sorrowers ! why bemoan and wail for 
death in this wise? For say thy past life has been welcome 
to thee, and all its joys have not been given in vain, passing 
through thee like a leaky vessel that refuses to be filled — say 
thou hast had thy will and thy fill of living: — 

Why not rise up then, like a sated guest. 
And enter, fool, upon thy dreamless rest? 

But if, on the contrary, life has been a sorrow to thee, and 
all the blessings that have been thine thou hast squandered, 
why seek to re-begin the weary round, and to gather what 
again thou wilt waste and squander as before? For hope not 
to find anything new. There is no other pleasure that I can 
contrive or discover for thee : 


For though thy life be fresh within thy frame, 
Nor years have yet thy bodily strength abated, 

You would find all things alway still the same, 
Nor e'er discover one thing new created — 

Nor shouldst thou live till all men's lives be done. 

For there is no new thing beneath the sun. 

Think, too, of the bygone antiquity of the everlasting time 
before our birth, how that was nothing to us. For nature 
holds up to us the time that w'as before us, as a vision of the 
future time that is to come after us. 

Look in the glass then. Say what shape is there? 

Appears there aught of terrible or sad? 
Does not the image that you gaze at seem 
Even gentler than a sleep without a dream. 

Sure enough, however, the terrors men dread after death 
are not all vain imaginings. Birds truly eat a way into 
Tityos ; Sisyphus rolls his stone up-hill for ever. But he is a 
Tityos, who, as he grovels in lust, is eaten up by anguish 
like a vulture; and he is a Sisyphus who is for ever asking 
honours of the people, and is for ever going back disap- 
pointed. The torments that we dreamed of in the future 
have their real being here, and men inflict them on them- 
selves, in this very life around us. 

Ah! might men only see the real cause of their sorrows, 
how salvation would then dawn on them! The man who is 
sick of home hurries forth from his lordly porticos, and then, 
again, hurries back, finding he is no better off abroad. In 
the town he says. Ah, would I were in the country ! and in the 
country, Ah, would I were in the town ! and to and fro 
between the two he goes hurrying in his chariot, and at each 
end of his journey he can do nothing but yawn for weariness. 
In this w^ay each man flies from himself, but can never for 
a moment escape; and he hates himself, being sick with an 
unknown malady. But could he only see the matter rightly, 
leaving all else, he would study the nature of things ; and 
learning that certain extinction and death is the end of all, 
would learn so to order his life accordingly. 



And now since I have shown you what mind and soul is, 
and how hfe is born with this body, and dies with the body's 
death, I will go on to explain to you a matter of the utmost 
moment; I will show you how we see, and feel, and taste, 
and how our life is connected with and knows the external 
world. And hard though the subject be, I will make it sweet 
to you, overlaying all its bitterness with the sweet honey of 
the Muses. 

Lucretius now goes on to explain how films and images 
are perpetually streaming off the surface of things, and illus- 
trates this by many analogies. For without doubt, he says, 
we see many things freely giving such discharge, not from the 
centre only, but from the outer surface itself. 

This daily happens, when the sunlight gleams 

Through those broad awnings, yellow, red, and blue, 

Which flap and flutter on their poles and beams 
Over great theatres: for there you view 

How from their surface down their colour streams. 
And how they make to flicker with their hue 

The curving crowd, and all the scene's recesses. 

And the grave fathers in their stately dresses. 

And all the more the narrowing walls around 

Make of the theatre a well of night. 
So much more gaily do the colours bound, 

And every object laughs with wayward light. 

And therefore, he says, since sheets of canvas discharge 
colour from their surface, all things will naturally discharge 
their pictures too — since, in each case alike they are sent forth 
from the surface. Nor are you to suppose that only those 
images are going through the air, which are thus sent off the 
surface of things. There are other images, with no counter- 
parts, which spontaneously beget and fashion themselves, as 
clouds do, and wander along as clouds do, with ever-varying 
and inconstant shape. For the clouds in this way we can see 


Fanning the air, and, gathering form on high. 
Blot out the blue, and violate the sky; 

Then through the air in shifting shapes are born: 
Now see we monstrous giants hurrying past. 

Who trail behind them lengths of shade forlorn ; 
And now great mountains move along the blast, 

And crags and boulders from the mountains torn, 
By which the sun's dimmed face is overcast; 

And now some mighty beast comes on amain 

With packs of other storm-clouds in its train. 

Atid now I will go on to show with what ease and celerity 
the images or idols that I spoke of are begotten, and how in- 
cessantly they flow and fall away from things. Hereupon he 
explains more minutely the nature of these emanations, how 
fine their substance is, and consequently with what swiftness 
they are capable of moving: — 

For we observe that things of little weight 
Are ever swift to move, of the which kind 

The sunlight is, which does not hesitate. 
Ever pressed on by fresh light from behind. 

To force its way, and nimbly penetrate 
Through all the space of air. 

And these idols or images of things are in their move- 
ments as swift as sunlight, and can pass through air as read- 
ily, — nay, they must be even swifter; for the stars are farther 
from us than the sun, and yet 

No sooner is the shine of water spread 

In the night air, beneath heaven's glittering plain, 

Than instantly to every star o'erhead 
A star within the wave responds again. 

Therefore, again and again, I repeat, you must admit that 
bodies, capable of striking the eyes and provoking vision, are 
constantly travelling through the air with a marvellous 
velocity. But because we can see with the eyes alone, the con- 
sequence is, that to whatever point we turn our sight, then all 


the same things meet and strike us with their shape and colour. 
Lucretius now goes on to explain the manner in which we in- 
fer the distance of things, and then the action of mirrors, and 
the real nature of the reflection in them. He then passes to 
optical delusions, and the various ways in which it seems that 
our eyes deceive us : — 

Now for this cause the far towers of a town 

Reach us as round, when they indeed are square; 

The angles of their films are quite worn down 
In drifting towards us through the length of air; 

And when they meet us, those strong things of stone 
Seem smooth and circular, as though they were 

Turned in a lathe ; but vaguely thus appear, 

And like a shadowy sketch of round things near. 

And there are numberless other like cases as well, but they 
can be all explained satisfactorily, and we must never for a 
moment admit that our eyes deceive us. The frailty, the 
sense of deception, is really in the mind. Do but think of the 
following instances, and you will see that this is so: — 

The ship in which we sail seems standing still. 
The ship that rides at anchor drifting by; 

And, as we hold to seaward, field and hill 
Seem to drop far astern; and in the sky 

The stars we steer by seem immovable. 
And yet go moving on assiduously. 

Since each clear body has its hour to rise. 

And its long road to rest across the skies. 

And as we watch the sun and moon, their light 
Seems also fixed, yet still moves on we know : 

And when on deck we watch with straining sight, 
Up from 'the sea-line shadowy mountains go. 

Into one solid isle their shapes unite. 
And yet we know huge straits between them flow, 

And ways for fleets. And giddy children view. 

When they stop turning, all things turning too. 

So, too, the sun seems near us when it rises, and yet 
illimitable lands and seas and unknown people lie between. 


A puddle of not a finger's depth seems to contain the whole 
great heaven. As we pause on horseback in a river-ford, the 
river seems to be standing still, and ourselves to be carried 
violently up the stream. A portico is supported on equal 
pillars, and yet as we look through it their height seems to be 
dwindling, and the floor seems to be rising, till they meet in a 
vanishing-point. Oars we know to be straight; and yet dip 
them in the water, and their submerged part will seem to be 
bent and broken: — 

So, too, we seem when chained in sleep profound 

To move in daylight, footing field and hill, 
Sailing new seas, and treading alien ground; 

And when the earnest night is deep and still, 
Our ears are loud with many a fancied sound. 

And many other marvellous things are there, which would 
seek to shake the credit of the senses : but in vain ; for it is 
not the senses that deceive us, but we w^ho deceive ourselves, 
by wrongly interpreting what they rightly tell us. Again — 

If a man hold that nothing can be known. 
He knows not whether he can know this even. 

Since he admits the things he knows are none. 
He stands with head on earth, and feet in heaven. 

And I decline to talk with such an one. 

No — such scepticism as this is utterly suicidal. The 
senses are all we can take our stand on, and they are unerring 

And now, says Lucretius, I will explain the action of the 
other senses. Sounds, in the first place, are streams of atoms, 
whose shape varies wil?h the quality of the sound: — 

Nor are the first beginnings of like form 
Which pierce the ears in crabbed sounds and sweet. 

As when in air the braying trumpets storm 
Which rouse barbarian nations to their feet. 

And when its carol comes from the wild swan 

Over the headlong floods of Helicon. 


When we speak, we force our voices out of the depth of 
our bodies, and the tongue gives their shape to them just as 
they are leaving our Hps. Words travel a certain distance 
keeping their clear shape; gradually this becomes obliterated. 
No sooner is a voice uttered, than it starts asunder into many 
voices; and this is the way in which a whole assembly hears 
the words of a single speaker. Voices which do not strike 
directly on the ear are carried away and lost, or else striking 
on something solid are thrown back again: — 

Which knowing, you may to yourself explain. 

And to your friends the explanation tell. 
How it is that the rocks give back again 

Our syllables in many a lonely dell; 
And how, when in the dusk we call in vain 

For our strayed friends, the hills grow voluble, 
And their familiar names are tossed about 
From slope to slope in many a lipless shout. 

I have seen places where to one such call, 

Straight six or seven voices would reply, 
In such a wise did every rocky wall 

One to the other make our utterance fly; 
And then the others, likewise, one and all 

Would toss them back in answer presently. 
In spots like these, the village people tell 
That the shy nymphs and goat-foot satyrs dwell. 

And there, too, say they, lurk the haunting fauns. 

Who make strange noises through the night profound, 

Playing quaint pranks amongst the shadowy lawns, 
With twangling lyres, and pipes of plaintive sound. 

Also, they hear god Pan, when spring-time dawns, 
Come, that wild head of his with pine-boughs bound. 

To touch the reeds with crooked mouth, and fling 

Their song of sylvan music to the spring. 

Now, to proceed, you need not wonder how 

It is that voices come and beat the ears 
Through things through which the eyesight cannot go. 

Because of this the reason plain appears — 
XI— 4 


Full many a thing that lets the voice go through, 

The visual film to thousand pieces tears, 
'Tis of so fine a texture. 

Lucretius now proceeds to give that account of the re- 
maining senses, of dreams, of the imagination, and of the way 
in which external things act as a stimukis to the mind, and the 
mind again acts as a stimulus to the body, which has been al- 
ready explained at length. He then goes on to describe the 
nature of love, which he treats of simply as a form of physical 
excitement. This pleasure, he says, is for us Venus; from 
that desire is the Latin name of love — from that desire has 
first trickled into the heart yon drop of Venus's honeyed joy, 
destined to be followed soon by chilly care. For though that 
which you yearn for is away, yet images of it are at hand, 
and its sweet name is present to the ears. But it is meet to 
fly such images, and scare away all that feeds love, and not 
keep your thoughts set upon one object, and so lay up for 
yourself care and unfailing pain. For the sore gathers 
strength, and becomes inveterate by feeding. For love, says 
Lucretius, is a fierce madness, a hungry longing, that will be 
satiated, and will always leave you craving. For its sake 
young men waste their strength and ruin themselves, and their 
whole life is passed at the beck of another: — 

Meanwhile their substance wastes and runs away 

Turned into coverlets from Babylon; 
Their duties are neglected day by day, 

And all their noble name is quite undone. 
Meanwhile upon her brow green emeralds play, 

Glancing in gold, and shoes from Sicyon 
Deck her elastic feet; and tears and traces 
Are on her crumpled robe of love's embraces. 

And all the wealth their good sires toiled to gain 

Changes to head-gear, and rich anadem. 
And Cean robes with trailing sweep of train, 

And feasts, and goblets thick with many a gem, 
And unguents, games, and garlands. All in vain ! 

They have their canker in the heart of them. 
A bitter something, in the midmost hours 
Of joy, starts up, and stings amongst the flowers. 


Either because they burn to see how they 

In foul embraces and effeminate 
Slay their own selves, and waste their strength away; 

Or else the dainty lips, on whom their fate 
Hangs, some slight word of doubtful meaning say, 

Which stings their heart like fire; or soon or late 
They think her eyes are roaming, to beguile 
Others, and catch the footprints of a smile. 

And these evils are the evils of love when it is successful. 
How much greater are those of love that is crossed and hope- 
less! So that it is best to watch beforehand, that you be 
never entangled in the snare. And yet even when you are 
entangled you may escape, unless you stand in your own 
way, and refuse resolutely to observe all those vices of mind 
and body which you may be quite sure will abound in her, 
woo whom you will. For this is what men do for the most 
part, blinded by passion, and attribute to their loved ones 
beauties that are not really theirs. 

Muddy complexions have a dusky spell, 

A lover says. A slut's a natural creature, 
A romping hoyden seems a slim gazelle; 

A sharp-tongued spitfire dazzles like a meteor. 
See, in yon slow and cumbrous movements dwell 

A queenly pride; that face, without a feature. 
Is strangely touching; and this fat plump chit 
Is,^top to toe, the very soul of wit. 

Lucretius goes on, something in the temper of Pope, to 
describe how different is 

Cynthia at her toilet's greasy task. 
To Cynthia fragrant at an evening masque, 

and he draws a humours contrast between the scene at the 
toilet indoors, when the lady is putting the last delicate stroke 
to her charms, with her maid behind her tittering at the 
whole process, and the lover outside at the threshold full of 
yearning for the adored one, and thinking sacred for her sake 
the very house that holds her. 


And yet, says Lucretius in conclusion, it is not all love 
that is thus vain and deluding: some women have a genuine 
passion for their lovers or their husbands; and often a wife, 
though of but small beauty, will by her gentle manners win 
the heart of a man, and custom will habituate him to pass his 
life with her, and love will set its mark on his heart at last, 
as dripping water will at last make a hole in a stone. 



Where is the bard whose verse avails to tell 

Of themes like these — of Nature's ways sublime? 

Or who shall so the power of verse compel 
As fitly to resound his praise in rhyme. 

Who all those spoils, that to his own hand fell, 
Hath left us as an heirloom for all time. 

Making us wise for ever? Truly none. 

Unless indeed it be a god alone. 

For, Memmius, if 'tis pleasing in thine eyes 
To speak the plain unvarnished truth of things, 

The author of these great discoveries — 
He was a god of gods, a king of kings. 

For first through him men grew what men call wise. 
And from him every rule of prudence springs. 

Who towed our life out of the storms and night. 

And moored us in the tranquil calm and light. 

What, compared to his discoveries, are those of other dis- 
coverers .f* Ceres, it is said, gave corn to us, and Bacchus 
wine. But we could have lived on happily without either of 
these, and many a nation does so even now. But unless the 
breast is clear, no life can be happy; and hence he, Epicurus 
our mighty master, is rightly held a god by us, since from him 
come those sweet mental solaces which are even now spread- 
ing in the world, and soothing the hearts of men. 

Yea, and our master therefore did far more 
Than vaunted Hercules. For how should we 


Fear the Nemean lion's rage and roar, 

Or that great bull in Crete beyond the sea, 

Or all the bristles of the Arcadian boar, 
Or what to us could snaky hydras be? 

Or how would Gorgon fight us from his gloom. 

Or those Stymphalian birds with brazen plume? 

Or that great dragon which for ever keeps 

The shining fruitage of the Hesperides, 
With fierce and vigilant eye that never sleeps, 

Couched 'neath the shadow of the charmed trees. 
Whilst round the midmost stem his huge coil creeps — 

How should he harm us by his far-off seas. 

The Atlantic shore, and the abhorred waves 
Which even the wild barbarian never braves? 

And all the other monsters of like kind that have been 
conquered, what harm, I ask, could they do us were they even 
now living? None, methinks — neither these, nor the like of 
these. But unless the breast is cleared, it itself is full of 
monsters; rather let us be afraid of them, and honour and 
glorify him who put them first to rout. 

Wherefore, walking in his footsteps, I will tell you in 
order how the world arose, and what laws it obeyed in rising. 
I will show you that it had a birth, and that death is also in 
store for it. I will tell you how the heaven is formed, and 
the earth also, the moon and stars, and how living creatures 
emerged out of lifeless matter; and I will show j^ou how all 
things are held and fettered by immutable laws and bound- 
aries : — • 

Well, not to dally more with things unproven. 

Look round you, on the heaven, the earth, the sea. 
The triple thread of which the world is woven, 
Three bodies, ]\Iemmius, such a different three. 
A day shall come when these shall all be cloven. 
And all the things that are shall cease to be. 
And blown like dust upon a stormy wind. 
The whole world melt, nor leave a wrack behind. 

If you doubt how this can be, consider the power of earth- 
quakes, and how in a few moments all things near are shat- 
tered by them : — 


But these may fortune banish from our path, 
Nor with such signs see fit to assure our faith. 

But before I go on to sing you the sure oracle, the doom 
and the destruction that await this whole universe, I will again 
pause a moment and sustain your trembling mind, lest relig- 
ion should still make you think that the world will endure for 
ever, and that all who should seek to prove otherwise shall 
suffer punishment, like a fresh race of Titans labouring to 
undermine the world. For what life or sense is there in the 
sea, the sun, the moon, that they should heed or hear what 
men say about them? How^ can they possibly have any life 
or passions in them? For we have seen what life is. It can- 
not exist without a fleshly body ; and even in that body it can 
live only in a certain part. 

Then, too, you cannot possibly believe that the gods exist 
in any parts of the world. Their fine nature is far with- 
drawn from our senses; the mind itself hardly sees th^m. 
We cannot touch them; and how then, I ask you, shall they 
touch us? What folly, too, to say that the gods have made 
the world, and set it in order, and arranged it for the use of 
man? In the first place, what could possibly induce them to 
take such trouble? — 

What could they gain from such a race as ours? 

Or what advantage could our gratitude 
Yield these immortal and most blessed powers, 

That they in aught should labour for our good? 

Or what new incident could have broken in upon them, 
and made them desirous to change their former life? Or 
even if they wanted to make a world, where did they find any 
pattern to work by, and how did they set about the business? 
or how, again, did they ascertain the world-making capabili- 
ties of the atoms, unless Nature herself, mother of the gods, 
had shown the gods all that she herself could do? 

But even had the science ne'er been mine 

Of first beginnings, and how all began, 
I could show clearly that no power divine 

Helped at the work, and made the world for man; 


So great the blunders in the vast design, 

So palpably is all without a plan. 
For if 'twere made for us, its structure halts 
In every member, full of flaws and faults. 

Look at the earth ; mark then, in the first place. 
Of all the ground the rounded sky bends over, 

Forests and mountains fill a mighty space. 
And even more do wasteful waters cover, 

And sundering seas ; then the sun's deadly rays 
Scorch part, and over part the hard forests hover; 

And Nature all the rest with weeds would spoil, 

Unless man thwarted her with wearying toil. 

Mark, too, the babe, how frail and helpless, quite 

Naked it comes out of its mother's womb, 
A waif cast hither on the shores of light. 

Like some poor sailor, by the fierce sea's foam 
Washed upon land; it lies in piteous plight, 

Nor speaks, but soon, as it beholds its home, 
Bleats forth a bitter cry — oh meet presage 
Of its life here, its woful heritage ! 

But the small younglings of the herds and flocks 
Are strong, and batten on the grass and dew. 

They need no playthings, none their cradle rocks, 
Nor ask they with the seasons garments new. 

They have no need of walls, and bars, and locks 
To guard their treasures ; but for ever true 

To them, the earth her constant bounty pours 

Forth at their feet, and never stints her stores. 

Lucretius now goes on to point out in detail the continual 
waste of everything that is visibly going on in the world 
around us, and to argue from this that of the whole there 
must be one day a like dissolution. Earth is for ever being, 
dissolved in water, or broken into dust and being whirled 
away in air; water in its turn is being for ever drunk up bv 
the sun; and the sun itself is for ever wasting its substance in 
swift emission of rays. 


So you may see at night such earthly fire, 
As hanging lamps, and torches blazing bright. 

Darting their flames out, as with keen desire, — 
Desire, I say, to feed the wasting light. 

Which travelling, still doth on its path expire. 
And would if not renewed be broken quite; 

But to the dying rays succeed fresh rays, 

And on the wall the light unpausing plays. 

Again, too, you may see that even stones are conquered by 
time, high towers moulder and fall down crashing, and even 
the mountain-summits crumble to decay. 

Think of this, too, — if the world was ever born, so surely 
will it perish. And it must have had a birthday — it cannot 
have been from everlasting, or else some record would have 
come to us of times before the Theban war and the fall of 

Again, as I have shown that nothing is solid but the atoms, 
and that void is mixed up with all things, and that void and 
atoms alone can resist all force and are indestructible, you 
may be certain, you surely can no longer doubt, that the grave 
and gate of death is gaping for the whole universe. 

Again, I have just shown you how all the elements of the 
world are engaged continually in a fierce intestine war; and 
to this struggle there must some day be an end, — either water, 
fire, or air will one day get the mastery, and then there will be 
the beginning of the end. Twice, indeed, even already, they 
feign that the battle has been wellnigh ended, and that water 
once was all but master; and once again that fire was, when 
Phaethon was whirled aloft in the sun's chariot — 

And the boy's hands let go the dangling reins, 
And the team tore across the ethereal plains. 

But the almighty father, seized with ire, 
Launched at the boy the all-dreaded thunderstone ; 

And as he fell, the Sun, the Sun his sire, 
With rapid hand, from headlong Phaethon 

Snatched the world's lamp of ever-burning fire, 
And gathered up the reins, and one by one 

He tamed the trembling steeds, and once again 

Mounted his car, and gave new life to men. 


And now, says Lucretius, I will tell )'ou in what order 
the present world evolved itself. And he goes on to describe 
the first chaotic atom-storm, and the gradual massing together 
of the earth, and how it cast off from itself the blue heaven, 
as a kind of husk or covering, and then threw out the fires 
that make the moon, and stars, and all the other lights that 
are in the firmament. First an igneous ether, he says, went 
up from the earth's surface, which, sweeping round as fire, 
gradually formed the heavens. 

And this same ether rising, in its wake 

Full many a seed of vivid fire up-drew. 
Thus when we see the low red morning break 

Along the grasses rough and gemmed with dew, 
Does a grey mist go up from ofif the lake, 

And from the clear perennial river too; 
And even at times the very meadows seem 
From their green breast to breathe a silvery stream. 

He now adds a number of details as to the formation of 
the earth's surface, which have been described already; and 
again refers to the onward changeless sweep of the ether, 
which keeps on its even way, unheeding all the turmoil and 
the storms in the lower air, between the earth and it. 

Onward it ever drives in changeless sweep; 
And how it still can so hold on and on 

The Pontic sea may teach you, which doth keep 
Ever due on, nor turns, for any force. 
Its icy current and compulsive course. 

Upon this follows a long series of speculations on the mo- 
tions of the sun and moon, the rest of the heavenly bodies, 
and the laws which govern the regular recurrence of the sea- 
sons, and the changing duration of the hours of light and 

And now, he says, since I have explained in what way 
everything might go on throughout the blue vault of heaven, 
I will go back to the infancy of the world, and the tender age 
of the fields, and show what, in their first attempts at child- 
bearing, they tried to raise. 


Up to the shores of light, and gave them there 
Into the keeping of the wandering air. 

In the beginning, then, the clods gave forth 

All kinds of herbage, and a verdant sheen 
Was glossy on the hills ; and flowery earth 

Laughed over all her meadows glad and green: 
Then bushes next, and trees of greater girth, 

Orderly rising into air were seen ; 
Which things came forth spontaneous everywhere, 
Like a bird's feathers or a horse's hair. 

Then gradually, in the manner that has been described al- 
ready, the earth gave birth to men, and animals, of the kinds 
that are now with us : — 

But hardier far than we were those first races 
Of men, since earth herself did them produce, 

And braced them with a firmer frame than braces 
Us now, and strung their arms with mightier thews. 

Nor sun nor rain on them left any traces. 

Nor sickness. And they never learned the use 

Of arts, for ages : but like beasts they ran 

Wild in the woods — the early race of man. 

Their strong arms knew not how to guide the plough. 
Or how to plunge the spade and till the plain. 

Or from the trees to lop the failing bough. 

But what the sun had given them, and the rain, 

They took, and deemed it luxury enow. 

Nor knew they yet the fatal greed of gain. 

But in the woods they sought their simple store. 

And stripped the trees, and never asked for more. 

For thick the acorns in the forest grew. 
And arbute-trees would yield the berried prize. 

Which in the winter wears a scarlet hue; 
And the earth bore these then of larger size; 

And many another suchlike berry too. 
It, from its yet unminished granaries. 

Gave gladly forth, more than sufficing then 

To appease the dawning wants of those poor men. 


And like wild herds they clustered to the sound 

Of falling waters, loud in many a dell, 
To slake their thirst; and as they roamed, they found 

The nymphs' green haunts, and there began to dwell; 
For there sweet waters gushed from out the ground 

In living streams, and on the damp rocks fell — 
The damp rocks, green with many a mossy stain — 
Then slipt away, and babbled to the plain. 

And they knew nought of fire, nor thought to fling 
The skins of beasts about their nakedness; 

But the wild wood's roof was their covering, 
Or rugged mountain cave ; and they would press 

Into the brushwood, from the buffeting 

Of rain and storm, and all the weather's stress. 

And nothing yet of rule or law they knew. 

Nor how to keep the weal of all in view. 

Whatever fortune threw in each man's way. 
That each bore off and hoarded as his own, 

To grasp and clutch it as his proper prey, 
Aloof, and living for himself alone. 

And naked in the woods the lovers lay, 
And by her lust or his each girl was won ; 

Or else by force ; or bribed, she heard his suit. 

By little gifts of acorns or ripe fruit. 

And trusting in their strength of hands and feet, 
They would outstrip the wild beasts in the wood; 

And some to death with ponderous clubs would beat. 
And hide from fiercer ones, who sought their blood; 

And just where night, with noiseless step and fleet, 
O'ertook them, like the dull sow's bristly brood, 

Down on the ground without a thought they lay, 

And burrowing in the leaves slept sound till day. 

And never waking in the dark, with fright 
Would they cry out, amazed for all the shade, 

And beg the sun to bring them back the light. 
But stolid they would sleep, and undismayed. 


Till rosy morning pleased to climb the height 

Of heaven ; for they, who from their birth surveyed 
The light and dark alternate rise and fall, 
Trusted the world, nor feared the end of all. 

But this state of things did not last for ever. Progress 
began, and Lucretius here at length describes its advancing 
stages — the gradual discoveries of fire, of the use of the met- 
als, of houses, of law, of monogamy, and all the other ele- 
ments and influences of civilisation. And he then goes on to 
account for the rise of religion, attributing it, as has been 
already said, to two different causes — the sight of the wan- 
dering images of the gods' forms, and also to ignorance of 
the hidden forces of nature. Then when once this conception 
of the gods was formed — 

They gave them dwellings in the heavenly light, 

Far off and calm ; because for aye appear 
Through the high heaven to roll the moon and night, 

Moon, day, and night, and all night's stars austere. 
And trailing meteors, vagrant things of light, 

And flying fires that wander far and near ; 
And because snows and hail and wind are there, 
And the hoarse threats that thunder through the air. 

O hapless race of men, exclaims Lucretius, when first 
they taxed the gods with having anything to do with this 
world of ours and its management! Little knew they the 
terror of the chains they were binding about themselves ; what 
wounds, what tears they were preparing for their children's 
children! For still as we gaze at the vast world around us, 
the importunate fear will at times steal into our soul, that the 
power of the gods may be unlimited ; and religion begins to 
raise its reawakening head. 

Having made this digression, Lucretius again returns to 
his account of human progress, describing the rude, simple 
pleasures of our earliest ancestors, and warning us that luxu- 
ries, though inevitably found out one after one, and inevita- 
bly making us discontented with what went before, have made 
us no better pleased with the present, though they have made 


us displeased with the past, and that with splendour and re- 
finement have come envy and discontent, from which the sim- 
ple savage early world was free. Mankind, he says, there- 
fore, ever toils vainly and to no purpose, and wastes life in 
groundless cares, because men have never learnt what is the 
true end of getting, and up to what point true pleasure waxes. 
This by slow degrees has carried life out into the deep sea, 
and stirred up from their lowest depth the mighty billows of 

And now all has been told, — how time by degrees brings 
each several thing before men's eyes, and reason raises it up 
into the borders of the light; for things in their due order 
must be thus advanced and brought forward, until they have 
arrived at the summit beyond which they can go no further. 



Athens it was, Athens, most famous name. 
Who first gave corn to us, sick sons of earth; 

And taught us countless arts, and how to frame 
Laws; but she gave her gift of chiefest worth. 

When into life she sent that man of fame 

Out of whose mouth the words of truth welled forth. 

Wherefore his glory through the world is spread, 

And still he speaks though dumb, and lives being dead. 

For when he saw that each most sore distress 

And craving of the flesh was satisfied, 
And men forbore from wrong and lawlessness, 

And life became secure, and pomp and pride 
And pleasures multiplied, yet none the less 

Each heart in secret ached, and each breast sighed, 
And that for ever in the mind's despite 
Were tears and pain our guests from morn to night; 

He plainly saw that not the honeyed draught 
Of life itself did all this teen afford; 

But 'twas the vessel out of which 'twas quaffed 
That spoiled whatever into it was poured; 


Partly that through the potter's careless craft 

It leaked; in part, that in its depths were stored 
Some bitter dregs, that sent a taint through all 
The sweets it held, of wormwood and of gall. 

He therefore cleansed men's hearts with his truth-telling 
precepts, and placed a limit to lust and fear, and showed 
the chief good we should all strive to reach, and the narrow 
track that led to it. And he showed that the ills that plague 
men in this mortal life were ills that came from nature — 
from a blind chance or force, call it what we will. For the 
terror that heretofore had held men in bondage, and indeed 
still holds very many of them, is to be dispelled by reason, 
and by reason only ; — 

And now, since I have shown the ethereal plains 
Of heaven are mortal, and the earth below. 

And of all things that heaven or earth contains 
The life and movement I have striven to show, 

The goal draws near. But something yet remains 
To tell. I have another mile to go: 

And in the Muse's ear must mount on high, 

'Mid storms and winds, and tell you how they fly. 

For foolish mortals, one and all together. 
Say that the calm high gods, by each caprice 

Of fretful temper swayed, ordain the weather. 
Venting their rage in storms; and when they cease 

From rage, relenting with a cloudless ether. 

But in order that reason may drive from us the very re- 
membrance of such old-wives' tales as these, and the unman- 
ning of senseless fear that they would still, if they could, 
beget in us, I will sing to you of the law and aspect of heaven, 
and of the birth of the storms and thunders, and of the bright 
lightnings, that you may see how all goes on by a fixed un- 
bending law, that has no thought of man, nor any care about 
him; and that you may spare your pains, and never look to 
the skies for omens, nor heed a jot from what quarter the 
volant fire has fallen. 


Thunder, in the first place, is the produce of clashing 
clouds, which either flap in the wind like canvas stretched 
and tossing over theatres, or, filled full of wind inside, burst 
suddenly as a distended bladder does. 

It lightens, too, when the clouds have struck out by their 
collisions many seeds of fire; but we hear the thunder after 
we have seen the lightning, because, though the two are really 
simultaneous, the sound travels more slowly than the light 
does. There are also other ways in which the clouds 

Dye all the landscape with their winged light, 

And with a rapid quivering flashes out 
The sailing storm. 

For sometimes the fire is caused, not by the clouds them- 
selves, but by the wind working its way into them, and grow- 
ing hot by its own velocity. This takes place, you must know, 
when the clouds are very dense, and are piled up into the 
heaven to an unimaginable height : — 

For do but note what time the storm-wind wild 

Comes carrying clouds like mountains through the air. 

Or on the mountain's selves the clouds are piled 
Motionless, and each wind is in its lair, 

Then may you mark those mountain-masses proud, 

And huge caves built of hanging rocks of cloud. 

Well, it is through these cloud-mountains that the storm 
raves and prowls, and pent amongst the caves and precipices, 
howls like a pack of wild beasts, and, seeking a way out, rolls 
together seeds of fire, and at last comes bursting out in forky 

And now I will tell you another thing ; — I will tell you by 
what law 

The mighty thunderbolt 
Goes through the walls of houses like a shout; 

piercing things that no earthly fire can pierce — nay, not even 
the fire of the sun in heaven. 

Lucretius fulfils his promise at great length, and devotes 
nearly two hundred lines, of no great interest, to his account 


of these thunderbolts ; asking in the middle, not without perti- 
nence, why, if they were hurled, as was said commonly, by 
the gods, to execute their vengeance, so many of them fell in 
the seas and deserts, and why the rest so rarely hit the only 
people for whom they possibly could have been intended. 

From these subjects he passes on to the laws of earth- 
quakes, the way in which the sea is still supplied with water, 
although so much is being constantly evaporated off its sur- 
face, the action of volcanoes, the rise and fall of the Nile, 
and a variety of other minor phenomena. He then at great 
length gives his explanation of the action of the magnet; and 
then suddenly leaps from this to a very short passage on the 
laws of the propagation of disease, which he traces to various 
conditions of climate, and the perpetual flying about in the 
air of particles that are hurtful to life, when attacking it 
under certain conditions. And it makes, he says, no difference 
whether we travel to places unfavourable to us, and change 
the atmosphere which wraps us round, or whether nature 
without our choice brings to us an atmosphere unsuited to us, 
or something to the use of which we have not been accus- 
tomed, and which is able to attack us on its first arrival. 

He then, without more preface, at once plunges into a de- 
scription of the great plague at Athens, borrowed from the 
celebrated account given by Thucydides. Such a form of dis- 
ease, he says, and a death-fraught miasma, once within the 
borders of Cecrops defiled the whole land with dead, and un- 
peopled the streets, and drained the city of its citizens. Rising 
first and starting from the innermost borders of Egypt, hav- 
ing travelled through long reaches of air and over floating 
fields of sea, the plague pitched at last on the whole people of 
Athens : — 

The pestilence would first the head assail. 

And then the bloodshot eyes, wherein there stood 

A dull set fire; and next the throat grew pale 
Inside, and all its passage blotched with blood. 

Then ulcers formed, anon the voice would fail; 
The tongue, the spirit's spokesman, would exude 

Blood also, and relaxed in every string, 

Lolled in the mouth a parched and listless thing. 


Next down the throat the insidious pest would ghde, 
And through the breast assault the heart's own door; 

Then slowly would the vital power subside, 

And through the mouth a stench begin to pour 

With the decaying breath. 

And so the description goes on for about a hundred and 
twenty lines, adding detail of this kind to detail, touching by 
the way on the agony and despair of the sufferers — how no 
remedy could be found anywhere — and at the appalling spec- 
tacle — 

How medicine muttered low with voiceless fear. 

And this above all, says Lucretius, heaped death on death ; 
— whenever any refused to attend their own sick, killing neg- 
lect soon after would punish them for their too great love of 
life, by visiting them in their turn with as foul an end, aban- 
doned in their turn, and forlorn of help. 

They too who stayed to tend the beds of death, 
Themselves anon were seen to droop and die. 

Drawing contagion from the tainted breath 

That thanked them for their kindness piteously. 

And at length so great was the mortality, so many were 
the bodies in vain crying for burial, that the old rites of sep- 
ulture continued no more in the city, with which pious folk of 
old had been always wont to be buried: for everything was 
confusion and dismay, and each man wo'uld sorrowfully bury 
his own, in any way the present moment allowed. 

And many a direful deed did men do then, 

Urged on by sudden want and poverty; 
For on the funeral pyres of other men 

They thrust their own poor kin uproariously; 
And wranglings rose, and oft their blood they'd shed, 
Dogged, and dying ere they'd leave their dead. 

And with these lines the poem of Lucretius ends. 

XI— 5 














Valerius Catullus — about whose prsenomen there is 
no evidence to show whether it was Caius or Quintus, and 
need be still less concern, as wherever the poet speaks of 
himself in his poems it is by his surname Catullus — was born 
B.C. Sy, and died, it is probable, in B.C. 54 or 53. His life 
and flower were brief; but there is internal evidence to prove 
that he was alive after b.c. 57, his death-date in the Eusebian 
Chronicle; and the silence of his muse as to public events 
immediately subsequent to 54 B.C., the death of Clodius in 
52 B.C., and the civil wars in 49-47 B.C. amongst the number, 
forbids the probability that he attained a longer span than 
some thirty- four years. 

Beyond the birth-date, we have literally no souvenirs of 
the childhood or early youth of Catullus, for he has recorded 
scarcely any admonitus locorum, like Horace, and does not 
deal in playfully-described miracles to herald the advent of a 
" divine poet." Born at Verona, an important town of Trans- 
padane Gaul on the river Athesis, which became a Latin colony 
in 89 B.C., and one of the finest cities in that part of Italy, he 
was by family and antecedents essentially Roman, and in 
education and tastes must be regarded as emphatically a town- 
bird. There is nothing to lead to the impression that he had 
the keen eye of Virgil for the natural and sylvan beauties 
of his birthplace and its environs, no special mention of its 
wine, apples, or spelt. He does not indeed utterly ignore the 
locality, for one of his most graceful pieces is a rapture 
about Sirmio (xxxi.), where he possessed a villa, no great 
distance from Verona, on the shores of the Lago di Garda. 
Hither in his manhood he returned for solace after trouble 



and disappointment; but it was probably rather with a crav- 
ing for rest than from the love of nature, which is not a key- 
note of his life or poetry. 

His removal to Rome at an early age for his education 
must have begun the weaning process; and though Verona 
had its " capital in little," its importance, still witnessed by 
the remains of an amphitheatre more perfect though smaller 
than the Colosseum, its medley of inhabitants from the e^ast 
and west, with a fair share of culture and urbanity, in 
spite of the infusion of barbarism which Cicero complained 
had reached even Rome with the " breeks " of the peoples 
from beyond the Alps, it is easy to conceive that Catullus soon 
contracted a preference for the capital, and was fain to quiz 
the provincials of his original home, though he seems to 
have retained not a few acquaintances and family ties amongst 
them. Such ties, as is seen in the cases of Catullus and Hor- 
ace, were stronger in the provinces than in Rome; and we 
shall see anon that the former was influenced by the tenderest 
and most touching fraternal affection ; but the charms of a 
residence at Rome, from the schoolboy period up to his brief 
life's end, asserted a power which was rarely interrupted by 
rustication or foreign travel ; and he cannot herein be accused 
of the volatility or changeableness which characterised others 
of his craft and country. This would be a power certain to 
grow with years, and the more so as books, society, culture, 
were accumulated in the capital. " At Rome," wrote the poet 
to Manlius — 

Alone I live, alone my studies ply, 

And there my treasures are, my haunts, my home. 

It is little more than guess-work to speculate on the rank 
and calling of Catullus's father. From the life of Julius 
Caesar by Suetonius we gather that he was on terms of inti- 
macy with, and a frequent host of, that great man ; and it is 
not improbable that he and the son who died in Asia Minor 
may have been merchants, though the death in question would 
consist as well with the surmise that Catullus's brother was 
on some prcetor's staff. Attempts have been made to estab- 


lish against the poet himself a charge of impecuniousness and 
wastefulness; but "the cobwebs in his purse" in the invita- 
tion to Fabullus (xiii.) are a figure of speech which need not 
be literally interpreted; his allusions in xi., *' Concerning 
Varus's Mistress," to a scanty exchequer and shabby equip- 
ment whilst in the suite of Memmius in Bithynia, cut rather 
at that ill-conditioned and illiberal praetor than himself ; and 
as to the jeu d'esprit about the " Mortgage," it makes all the 
difference of meum and tuum whether we read of " your " or 
" my " country-seat as the snug tenement, as to which the 
poet tells Furius — 

That there's a mortgage, I've been told. 

About it wound so neatly, 
That, ere this new moon shall be old, 

'Twill sweep it ofif completely. — (xxvi.) 

Some possible colour for the suspicion is indeed found in 
the fact that on occasion — like other young men about town — 
Catullus sought to improve his finances, and so — like other 
young men — joined the suite of the praetor, Caius Memmius, 
in Bithynia, attracted by the literary presage of that gov- 
ernor, who was the friend and patron of Lucretius. From 
him, however, he derived nothing but disappointment. Mem- 
mius did not enrich his own coffers : his suite, if we may judge 
by Catullus, did not recoup their outfit; but, on the contrary, 
might have stood as a warning to other would-be fortune- 
menders for the nonce, as the poet points the simile — 

Like me, who following about 

My praetor — was — in fact, cleaned out. — (xxvii.) 

But with regard to the poet's general finances we have 
certainly no reason, from his remains, to suppose that he was 
habitually out at elbows. On the contrary, we know that he 
had two country-houses, — one at the Lago di Garda (which 
some have thought is still represented by the ruins of a con- 
siderable edifice at the extremity of the promontory on its 
southern shore, though later discoveries show that these are 


remains of baths of the date of Constantine, to say nothing 
of their extent being out of keeping with a poet's villa) ; and 
the other in the suburb of Tibur, where was his Tiburtine, or, 
as his well-wishers called it, to tease him, his Sabine Farm 
(xliv.). Add to these a house and library at Rome, of which 
he wrote, as we have seen above, to Manlius, and an estate 
which he owed to the bounty of a friend, and of which little 
more is known than that it included amongst other goods and 
chattels a housekeeper;^ and we shall determine that Catullus 
was probably in nowise amenable to the charge of being a 
spendthrift or " distrest poet," but rather a man of good 
average means, in fair circumstances and good society. For 
the latter it is plain that his education would have fitted him. 
Though he had not, like Horace, the advantage of a Greek 
sojourn to give it finish and polish, he had enjoyed what was 
then at a premium in Latin towns even more than at Rome, a 
thorough introduction to Greek literature. Herein he laid 
the foundations of that deep familiarity with the Alexandrian 
poets, which, in common with his brother elegiast, Propertius, 
but perhaps with special manipulation all his own, character- 
izes his other than erotic poetry. It is possible that the imi- 
tations of Alexandrine poetry may have been his earliest 
poetic efforts, but the more natural supposition is that his 
earliest verses were inspired rather by the taverns and lounges 
of Roman or Veronese resort than by the schools; and if so, 
an early date would be assigned to " Colonia, its Old Bridge, 
and the Stupid Husband" (xvii.), the poem about a "Bab- 
bling Door," the " Mortgage," and other like squibs and jeux 

The lack of what, to the accomplished Roman of the 
highest rank, was tantamount to a college education at Athens, 
Catullus made up later on by what is also a modern equiva- 
lent — foreign travel. After his bootless winter in Bithynia, 
he chartered a yacht and started on a tour amidst the isles of 
the Archipelago, after having first done the cities of Asia. 
And so up the Ionian and Adriatic he sailed home to the Lago 

^ To my domains he set an ampler bound. 
And unto me a home and mistress gave. 


di Garda and Sirmio, furnished, doubtless, with poetic mate- 
rial and fancy suggested by his voyage, and fitted more than 
ever for the intercourse of those literary men at Rome whose 
friendship he enjoyed in his mature life, — if we may use such 
an expression of one who died at thirty-four. Among these 
were Pollio, Calvus, Cicero, Cornelius Nepos, with whom to 
have been on terms of intimacy is a distinct set-off against an 
acquaintance with some scores of lighter and looser asso- 

It is only imperfect acquaintance with the poems of Catul- 
lus that sets up his image as that of a mere Anacreontic poet, 
a light jester and voluptuary, who could not be earnest but 
when his jealousy was roused by his beauteous bane — his 
Lesbia. The finished grace of his poetic compliments to 
such historic Romans as those we have just named may be 
set beside the touching and pathetic poem to his brother as 
proofs of his exquisite command of very different veins, al- 
though in his hours of youthful gaiety he could throw off 
light lays on passing tittle-tattle, or chronicle adventures more 
or less scandalous and licentious. 

His claim to permanent honour as a poet rests upon the 
depths of intense feeling which, whether in light love (if his 
love for Lesbia can ever be so called) or in brotherly affec- 
tion, as shown in his lament for his brother's death in the 
Troad, well up to the sound of the plaintive lyre. It is pretty 
fully settled that his brother's death did not synchronise with 
the poet's voyage to Bithynia. Had it been so, would he not 
surely, as Mr. Theodore Martin has observed, have linked a 
fond memory of their joint boyhood with his ode on return to 
Sirmio? The times and seasons were distinct, but Catullus 
made a set pilgrimage to his brother's grave on the Rhastean 
headland; and to this landmark, as it were, of his life, this 
heartbreaking journey, and the desolation of the home to 
which he returned, must be referred his sad lines to Hortalus, 
Manlius, and Cornificius. 

If to this we add the late realisation of Lesbia's utter 
wantonry (a chapter in the poet's history which, as influenc- 
ing it beyond all others, deserves to be treated separately and 
at length), it is made clear that his youthful spirits may by 


this time have been deserting the sensitive and saddened Ca- 
tallus; and though there is no distinct record of his death, 
the inference is justifiable that accumulated bereavements and 
the rupture of tenderest ties, rather than the effects of habitual 
profligacy, brought to a premature death the richly-gifted and 
learned Veronese songster, whom Ovid in his " Amores " 
bids meet another early-taken bard — Tibullus — his youthful 
temples ivy-crowned, in the Elysian valley. It is surely with 
his riper years (perhaps about 6i or 60 B.C.), and not with 
those when he was more fickle and in the heyday of young 
blood, that we should connect his passion for Lesbia. Tired, 
perhaps, of light loves, which left only their bitterness behind, 
he had dreamed — though it was an empty and ill-founded 
dream — of a more enduring connection with this most beau- 
tiful and graceless of Roman matrons. This idol shattered, 
its worshipper undeceived, and the brother whom he loved 
with a pure affection torn from him by an untimely death, 
Catullus has little more in the way of a landmark for the 

Between these events and his death-date, whether we take 
that as 57 or 54 B.C., there was time for tender regrets, oc- 
casional alternations between palinodes and professions of for- 
giveness, presentiments of coming fate, and more direct facing 
of premature death. Time also, as to our good fortune he 
discovered, for collecting the volume of his poems, which he 
fitly dedicated to Cornelius Nepos, and forwarded to him in a 
highly-finished dainty copy, " purfled," as one translator ex- 
presses it, " glossily, fresh with ashy pumice." It is a happy 
sample of his ideal of poetic compliment, and apologetically 
excuses the boldness of offering so slender an equivalent for 
the historian's three volumes (which have not survived) of 
Italian history. The first verse illustrates the binding and 
preparing of a Roman presentation copy. The last points 
the contrast of a sort of Diomede and Glaucus exchange with 
a lurking esteem for his own professedly inadequate gift:— 

Great Jove, what lore, what labour there ! 
Then take this little book, whate'er 
Of good or bad it store; 


And grant, oh guardian Muse, that it 
May keep the flavour of its wit 
A century or more ! — M. 

A few words should be said in deprecation of the char- 
acter for Hcentiousness of life and poetry under which it has 
been the misfortune of Catallus to suffer amongst moderns. 
It ought to be taken into account that the standard of morals 
in his day was extremely low ; vice and profligacy walking 
abroad barefaced, and some fresh scandal in high places — 
amidst the consul's suite and the victorious general's retinue — 
being bruited abroad as day succeeded day. A poet who 
moved in the world and had gained the repute of a smart 
hitter at the foibles and escapades of his neighbours, whilst 
himself hot-blooded, impetuous, fearless, and impatient of 
the restraint of society, was not unlikely to become the 
object of some such general charges as we find from xvi., 
that Aurelius and Furius circulated against Catullus. And 
to our apprehension the defence of the poet — 

True poets should be chaste, I know. 
But wherefore should their lines be so? 

seems like begging the question, and scarcely a high tone of 
self-justification. Indeed, his retort is not simply turning 
the tables, as he might have done, on his maligners, but some- 
what unnecessarily defending his life at the expense of his 
writings. This, it is probable, has acted in his disfavour. 
Excepting a few extremely personal and scurrilous epigrams 
and skits, it is not easy to pick out in the poetry of Catullus 
a greater looseness of language than in that of his Augustan 
successors : whilst as compared with his contemporaries in 
high places and public life, his moral conduct might have 
passed for fairly decent. What most concerns the modern 
reader is that after abatements and omissions of what is more 
or less unpresentable, there remains so much of a more re- 
fined standard of poetry and manners, so much tenderness in 
pure affection and friendship, so much, we might almost say, 
chivalry and forgivingness in the treatment of more question- 


able objects of his passion, that we are won to condonation 
of the evil which is that of the time and society for the charm 
and ideal refinement of the genius which is specially his own. 
The standard of purity and morals has, we know, risen and 
fallen in modern times and nations ; and a severe " index ex- 
purgatorius " should ban our Herricks, Moores, and Byrons — 
nay, even Burns; but unless a sponge is to wipe out for the 
sake of a few blots a body of true poetry, rare in form and 
singularly rich in talent and grace, and a hard and fast rule is 
to condemn bitter and sweet alike, it is to be hoped that a fairer 
insight into the poetry of Catullus, attainable through the 
blameless medium of at least one excellent translation, will 
enable English readers to judge how much of the prejudice 
attaching to the name of Catullus is without foundation, and 
how rich and original is the freshness and vivacity of his 
muse. It is no little gain to feel that in this genius we have 
" not only one of the very few writers who on one or two 
occasions speaks directly from the heart," but one entitled to 
the much more comprehensive praise, as has been shown by 
Professor Sellar in his Roman Poets of the Republic, of " a 
wonderful sincerity in all the poems, by means of which the 
whole nature of the poet, in its better and worse features, is 
revealed to us as if he were our contemporary." 


Who shall take thee, the new, the dainty volume, 
Purfled glossily, fresh with ashy pumice? 

,You, CorneHus; you of old did hold them 
Something worthy, the petty witty nothings, 

While you venture, alone of all Italians, 

Time's vast chronicle in three books to circle, 
Jove! how arduous, how divinely learned! 

Therefore welcome it, yours the little outcast, 
This slight volume. O yet, supreme awarder, 
Virgin, save it in ages on for ever. 


Sparrow, favourite of my own beloved, 

Whom to play with, or in her arm_s to fondle, 
She delighteth, anon with hardy-pointed 

Finger angrily doth provoke to bite her: 

When my lady, a lovely star to long for, 

Bends her splendour awhile to tricksy frolic; 
Peradventure a careful heart beguiling, 

Pardie, heavier ache perhaps to lighten; 

Might I, like her, in happy play caressing 
Thee, my dolorous heart awhile deliver! 

I would joy, as of old the maid rejoiced 
Racing fleetly, the golden apple eyeing, 
Late-won loosener of the wary girdle. 




Weep each heavenly Venus, all the Cupids, 
Weep all men that have any grace about ye. 
Dead the sparrow, in whom my love delighted, 
The dear sparrow, in whom my love delighted. 

Yea, most precious, above her eyes, she held him. 
Sweet, all honey: a bird that ever hail'd her 
Lady mistress, as hails the maid a mother. 

Nor would move from her arms away : but only 
Hopping round her, about her, hence or hither. 
Piped his colloquy, piped to none beside her. 

Now he wendeth along the mirky pathway, 
Whence, they tell us, is hopeless all returning. 

Evil on ye, the shades of evil Orcus, 

Shades all beauteous happy things devouring. 
Such a beauteous happy bird ye took him. 

Ah ! for pity ; but ah ! for him the sparrow, 
Our poor sparrow, on whom to think my lady's 
Eyes do angrily redden all a-weeping. 


The puny pinnace yonder you, my friends, discern, 
Of every ship professes agilest to be. 
Nor yet a timber o'er the waves alertly flew 
She might not aim to pass it ; oary-wing'd alike 
To fleet beyond them, or to scud beneath a sail. 

Nor here presumes denial any stormy coast 
Of Adriatic or the Cyclad orbed isles, 
A Rhodos immemorial, or that icy Thrace, 
Propontis, or the gusty Pontic ocean-arm. 


Whereon, a pinnace after, in the days of yore 

A leafy shaw she budded ; oft Cytorus' height 
With her did inly whisper airy colloquy. 

Amastris, you by Pontus, you, the box-clad hill 
Of high Cytorus, all, the pinnace owns, to both 
Was ever, is familiar; in the primal years 
She stood upon your hoary top, a baby tree, 
Within your haven early dipt a virgin oar: 

To carry thence a master o'er the surly seas, 
A world of angry water, hail'd to left, to right 
The breeze of invitation, or precisely set 
The sheets together op'd to catch a kindly Jove. 

Nor yet of any power whom the coasts adore 

Was heard a vow to soothe them, all the weary way 
From outer ocean unto glassy quiet here. 
But all the past is over ; indolently now 
She rusts, a life in autumn, and her age devotes 
To Castor and with him ador'd, the twin divine. 

Living, Lesbia, we should e'en be loving. 
Sour severity, tongue of eld maligning. 
All be to us a penny's estimation. 

Suns set only to rise again to-morrow. 

We, when sets in a little hour the brief light. 

Sleep one infinite age, a night for ever. 

Thousand kisses, anon to these an hundred, 
Thousand kisses again, another hundred. 
Thousand give me again, another hundred. 

Then once heedfully counted all the thousands. 
We'll uncount them as idlv: so we shall not 


Know, nor traitorous eye shall envy, knowing 
All those myriad happy many kisses. 


But that, Flavins, hardly nice or honest 
This thy folly, methinks Catullus also 
E'en had known it, a whisper had betray'd thee. 

Some she-malady, some unhealthy wanton, 
Fires thee verily: thence the shy denial. 

Least, you keep not a lonely night of anguish; 
Quite too clamorous is that idly-feigning 
Couch, with wreaths, with a Syrian odour oozing; 
Then that pillow alike at either utmost 
Verge deep-dinted asunder, all the trembling 
Play, the strenuous unsophistication ; 
All, O prodigal, all alike betray thee. 

Why ? sides shrunken, a sullen hip disabled, 
Speak thee giddy, declare a misdemeanour. 

So, whatever is yours to tell or ill or 

Good, confess it. A witty verse awaits thee 
And thy lady, to place ye both in heaven. 


Ask me, Lesbia, what the sum delightful 
Of thy kisses, enough to charm, to tire me? 

Multitudinous as the grains on even 
Lybian sands aromatic of Cyrene ; 

'Twixt Jove's oracle in the sandy desert 
And where royally Battus old reposeth ; 

Yea a company vast as in the silence 
Stars which stealthily gaze on happy lovers ; 


E'en so many the kisses I to kiss thee 

Count, wild lover, enough to charm, to tire me; 

These no curious eye can wholly number. 
Tongue of jealousy ne'er bewitch nor harm them. 


Ah poor Catullus, learn to play the fool no more. 
Lost is the lost, thou know'st it, and the past is past. 

Bright once the days and sunny shone the light on thee, 
Still ever hasting where she led, the maid so fair, 
By me belov'd as maiden is belov'd no more. 

Was then enacting all the merry mirth within 
Thyself delighted, and the maid she said not nay. 
Ah truly bright and sunny shone the days on thee. 

Now she resigns thee ; child, do thou resign no less. 
Nor follow her that flies thee, or to bide in woe 
Consent, but harden all thy heart, resolve, endure. 

Farewell, my love. Catullus is resolv'd, endures. 
He will not ask for pity, will not importune. 

But thou'lt be mourning thus to pine unask'd alway. 
O past retrieval faithless ! Ah what hours are thine ! 
When comes a likely wooer? who protests thou'rt fair? 

Who brooks to love thee? who decrees to live thine own? 
Whose kiss delights thee ? whose the lips that own thy bite ? 

Yet, yet, Catullus, learn to bear, resolve, endure. 


Dear Veranius, you of all my comrades 
Worth, you only, a many goodly thousands. 
Speak they truly that you your hearth revisit, 

Brothers duteous, homely mother aged? 

XI— 6 


Yes, believe them. O happy news, Catullus! 

I shall see him alive, alive shall hear him, 
Tribes Iberian, uses, haunts, declaring 
As his wont is ; on him my neck reclining 

Kiss his flowery face, his eyes delightful. 

Now, all men that have any mirth about you, 
Know ye happier any, any blither? 


In the Forum as I was idly roaming 
Varus took me a merry dame to visit. 
She a lady, methought upon the moment, 
Of some quality, not without refinement. 

So, arrived, in a trice we fell on endless 

Themes colloquial ; how the fact, the falsehood 
With Bithynia, what the case about it. 
Had it helped me to profit or to money. 

Then I told her a very truth ; no atom 

There for company, prsetor, hungry natives. 
Home might render a body aught the fatter : 

Then our praetor a castaway, could hugely 
Mulct his company, had a taste to jeer them. 

Spoke another, * Yet anyways, to bear you 
Men were ready, enough to grace a litter. 
They grow quantities, if report belies not.' 
Then supremely myself to flaunt before her, 

I * So thoroughly could not angry fortune 
Spite, I might not, afflicted in my province. 
Get erected a lusty eight to bear me. 

POEMS 71! 

But so scrubby the poor sedan, the batter'd 

Frame-work, nobody there nor here could ever 
Lift it, painfully neck to nick adjusting.' 

Quoth the lady, belike a lady wanton, 

' Just for courtesy, lend me, dear Catullus, 
Those same nobodies. I the great Sarapis 
Go to visit awhile.' Said I in answer, 

* Thanks ; but, lady, for all my easy boasting, 

'Tw^as too summary ; there's a friend who knows me, 
Cinna Gaius, his the sturdy bearers. 

* Mine or Cinna's, an inch alone divides us, 

I use Cinna's, as e'en my own possession. 
But you're really a bore, a very tiresome 
Dame unmannerly, thus to take me napping.' 


FuRius and Aurelius, O my comrades. 
Whether your Catullus attain to farthest 
Ind, the long shore lash'd by reverberating 

Surges Eoan ; 
Hyrcan or luxurious horde Arabian, 
Sacan or grim Parthian arrow-bearer. 
Fields the rich Nile discolorates, a seven-fold 

River abounding; 
Whether o'er high Alps he afoot ascending 
Track the long records of a mighty Caesar, 
Rhene, the Gauls' deep river, a lonely Britain 

Dismal in ocean; 
This, or aught else haply the gods determine, 
Absolute, you, with me in all to part not ; 
Bid my love greet, bear her a little errand. 

Scarcely of honour. 


Say ' Live on yet, still given o'er to nameless 
Lords, within one bosom, a many wooers, 
Clasp'd, as unlov'd each, so in hourly change all 

Lewdly disabled. 
* Think not henceforth, thou, to recal Catullus' 
Love; thy own sin slew it, as on the meadow's 
Verge declines, ungently beneath the plough-share 

Stricken, a flower.' 


Marrucinian Asinius, hardly civil 

Left-hand practices o'er the merry wine-cup. 
Watch occasion, anon remove the napkin. 
Call this drollery? Trust me, friend, it is not. 
'Tis most beastly, a trick among a thousand. 

Not believe me? believe a friendly brother, 
Laughing Pollio ; he declares a talent 
Poor indemnification, he the parlous 
Child of voluble humour and facetious. 

So face hendecasyllables, a thousand. 

Or most speedily send me back the napkin ; 

Gift not prized at a sorry valuation, 

But for company ; 'twas a friend's memento. 

Cloth of Saetabis, exquisite, from utmost 
Iber, sent as a gift to me Fabullus 
And Veranius. Ought not I to love them 
As Veranius even, as Fabullus ? 


Please kind heaven, in happy time, Fabullus, 
• We'll dine merrily, dear my friend, together. 

Promise only to bring, your own, a dinner 
Rich and goodly ; withal a lily maiden. 
Wine, and banter, a world of hearty laughing. 


Promise only ; betimes we dine, my gentle 

Friend, most merrily ; but, for your Catullus — 
Know he boasts but a pouch of empty cobwebs. 

Yet take the contrary fee, the quintessential 
Love, or sweeter if aught is, aught supremer, 

Perfume savoury, mine ; my love received it 
Gift of every Venus, all the Cupids. 

Would you smell it ? a god shall hear Fabullus 
Pray unbody him only nose for ever. 


Calvus, save that as eyes thou art beloved, 
I could verily loathe thee for the morning's 
Gift, Vatinius hardly more devoutly. 

Slain with poetry! done to death with abjects ! 

what syllable earn'd it, act allow'd it? 
Gods, your malison on the sorry client 

Sent that rascally rabble of malignants. 

Yet, if, freely to guess, the gift recherche 
Some grammarian, haply Sulla, sent thee ; 

1 repine not ; a dear delight a triumph 
This, thy drudgery thus to see rewarded. 

Gods! an horrible and a deadly volume! 

Sent so faithfully, friend, to thy Catullus, 

Just to kill him upon a day, the festive, 

Saturnalia, best of all the season. 
Sure, a drollery not without requital. 

For, come dawn, to the cases and the bookshops 
I; there gather a C^esius and Aquinus, 
With Suffenus, in every wretch a poison: 

Such plague-prodigy thy remuneration ! 


Now good-morrow ! away with evil omen 
Whence ill destiny lamely bore ye, clumsy 
Poet-rabble, an age's execration ! 


Readers, any that in the future ever 
Scan my fantasies, haply lay upon me 
Hands adventurous of solicitation — 


Lend thy bounty to me, to my beloved. 
Kind Aurelius. I do ask a favour 

Fair and lawful; if you did e'er in earnest 
Seek some virginal innocence to cherish. 
Touch not lewdly the mistress of my passion. 

Trust the people ; avails not aught to fear them, 
Such, who hourly within the streets repassing, 
Run, good souls, on a busy quest or idle. 

You, you only the free, the felon-hearted, 
Fright me, prodigal you of every virtue. 

Well, let luxury run her heady riot. 
Love flow over ; enough abroad to sate thee : 
This one trespass — a tiny boon — presume not. 

But should impious heat or humour headstrong 
Drive thee wilfully wretch, to such profaning, 
In one folly to dare a double outrage : 

Ah what misery thine; what angry fortune! 

Heels drawn tight to the stretch shall open inward 
Lodgment easy to mullet and to radish. 



I'll traduce you, accuse you, and abuse you. 

Soft Aurelius, e'en as easy Furius. 

You that lightly a saucy verse resenting, 
Misconceit me, sophisticate me wanton. 

Know, pure chastity rules the godly poet, 
Rules not poesy, needs not e'er to rule it; 
Charms some verse vvith a witty grace delightful? 

'Tis voluptuous, impudent, a wanton. 

It shall kindle an icy thought to courage. 
Not boy- fancies alone, but every frozen 
Flank immovable, all amort to pleasure. 

You my kisses, a million happy kisses. 
Musing, read me a silky thrall to softness? 
I'll traduce you, accuse you, and abuse you. 


Kind Colonia, fain upon bridge more lengthy to gambol, 
And quite ready to dance amain, fearing only the rotten 
Legs too crazily steadied on planks of old resurrections, 
Lest it plunge to the deep morass, there supinely to welter ; 
So surprise thee a sumptuous bridge thy fancy to pleasure, 
Passive under a Salian god's most lusty procession; 
This rare favour, a laugh for all time, Colonia, grant me. 

In my own township a citizen lives : Catullus adjures thee 
Headlong into the mire below topsy-turvy to drown him. 
Only, where the superfluent lake, the spongy putrescence. 
Sinks most murkily flushed, descends most profoundly the 


Such a ninny, a fool is he; witless even as any 

Two years' urchin, across papa's elbow drowsily swaying. 

For though wed to a maiden in spring-tide youthfully bud- 
Maiden crisp as a petulant kid, as airily wanton. 
Sweets more privy to guard than e'er grape-bunch 

shadowy-purpling ; 
He, he leaves her alone to romp idly, cares not a fouter. 
Nor leans to her at all, the man's part ; but helpless as alder 
Lies, new-fell'd in a ditch, beneath axe Ligurian ham- 
As alive to the world, as if world nor wife were at issue. 

Such this gaby, my own, my arch fool ; he sees not, he hears 
Who himself is, or if the self is, or is not, he knows not. 

Him I'd gladly be lowering down thy bridge to the bottom, 
If from stupor inanimate peradventure he wake him, 
Leaving muddy behind him his sluggish heart's hesitation. 
As some mule in a glutinous sludge her rondel of iron.^ 


Sire and prince-patriarch of hungry starvelings, 
Lean Aurelius, all that are, that have been, 
That shall ever in after years be famish'd ; 

Wouldst thou lewdly my dainty love to folly 
Tempt, and visibly? thou be near, be joking 
Cling and fondle a hundred arts redouble? 

^ The round plate of iron which formed the lower part of the sock 
worn by horses, mules, &c., when on a journey, and, unlike our 
horse-shoes, was removable at the end of it. 


O presume not : a wily wit defeated 
Pays in scandalous incapacitation. 

Yet didst folly to fulness add, 'twere all one ; 
Nor shall beauty to thirst be train'd or hunger's 
Grim necessity ; this is all my sorrow. 

Then hold, wanton, upon the verge ; to-morrow 
Comes preposterous incapacitation. 


SuFFENUS, he, dear Varus, whom, methinks, you know, 
Has sense a ready tongue to talk, a wit urbane. 
And writes a world of verses, on my life no less. 

Ten times a thousand he, believe me, ten or more, 
Keeps fairly written ; not on any palimpsest. 
As often, enter'd, paper extra-fine, sheets new. 
New every roller, red the strings, the parchment-case 
Lead-rul'd, with even pumice all alike complete. 

You read them : our choice spirit, our refin'd rare wit, 
Suffenus, O no ditcher e'er appeared more rude, 
No looby coarser ; such a shock, a change is there. 

How then resolve this puzzle ? He the birthday-wit. 
For so we thought him — keener yet, if aught is so — 
Becomes a dunce more boorish e'en than hedgeborn boor. 
If e'er he faults on verses; yet in heart is then 
Most happy, writing verses, happy past compare, 
So sweet his own self, such a world at home finds he. 

Friend, 'tis the common error ; all alike are wrong. 
Not one, but in some trifle you shall eye him true 
Suffenus ; each man bears from heaven the fault they send, 
None sees within the wallet hung behind, our own. 



Needy Furius, house nor hoard possessing, 
Bug or spider, or any jEire to thaw you. 
Yet most blest in a father and a step-dame, 
Each for penury fit to tooth a flint-stone : 
Is not happiness yours ? a home united ? 
Son, sire, mother, a lathy dame to match him. 

Who can wonder? in all is health, digestion, 
Pure and vigorous, hours without a trouble. 
Fires ye fear not, or house's heavy downfal, 
Deeds unnatural, art in act to poison, 
Dangers myriad accidents befalling. 

Then your bodies ? in every limb a shrivell'd 
Horn, all dryness in all the world whatever, 
Tann'd or frozen or icy-lean with ages. 
Sure superlative happiness surrounds thee. 
Thee sweat frets not, an o'er-saliva frets not, 

Frets not snivel or oozy rheumy nostril. 

Yet such purity lacks not e'en a purer. 

White those haunches as any cleanly-silver'd 
Salt, it takes you a month to barely dirt them. 
Then like beans, or inert as e'er a pebble. 
Those impeccable heavy loins, a finger's 

Breadth from apathy ne'er seduced to riot. 

Such prosperity, such superb profusion, 
Slight not, Furius, idly nor reject not. 
As for sesterces, all the would-be fortune. 
Cease to wish it; enough, methinks, the present. 


O THOU blossom of all the race Juventian 
Not now only, but all as yet arisen, 
All to flower in after-years arising; 


Midas' treasury better you presented 
Him that owns not a slave nor any coffer, 
Ere you suffer his alien arm's presuming. 

What? you fancy him all refin'd perfection? 
Perfect! truly, without a slave, a coffer. 

Slight, reject it, away with it ; for all that 
He, he owns not a slave nor any coffer. 


Smooth Thallus, inly softer you than any furry rabbit, 
Or glossy goose's oily plumes, or velvet earlap yielding. 
Or feel age's heavy thighs, or flimsy filthy cobweb ; 

And Thallus, hungry rascal you, as hurricane rapacious, 
When winks occasion on the stroke, the gulls agape declar- 

Return the mantle home to me, you watch'd your hour to 

The fleecy napkin and the rings from Thynia quaintly graven, 
Whatever you parade as yours, vain fool, a sham reversion : 

Unglue the nails adroit to steal, unclench the spoil, deliver. 
Lest yet that haunch voluptuous, those tender hands 

Should take an ugly print severe, the scourge's heavy 
branding ; 

And strange to bruises you should heave, as heaves in open 
Some little hoy surprised adrift, when wails the windy 


Draughts, dear Furius, if my villa faces, 
'Tis not showery south, nor airy wester. 
North's grim fury, nor east; 'tis only fifteen 
Thousand sesterces, add two hundred over. 
Draft unspeakable, icy, pestilential! 



Boy, young caterer of Falernian olden, 

Brim me cups of a fiercer harsher essence; 

So Postumia, queen of healths presiding, 
Bids, less thirsty the thirsty grape, the toper. 

But dull water, avaunt. Away the wine-cup's 
Sullen enemy ; seek the sour, the solemn ! 
Here Thyonius hails his own elixir. 


Starving company, troop of hungry Piso, 
Light of luggage, of outfit expeditious. 
You, Veranius, you, my own Fabullus, 

Say, what fortune? enough of empty masters, 
Frost and famine, a lingering probation? 

Stands your dairy fair? is any profit 
Enter'd given? as I to serve a prjetor 
Count each beggarly gift a timely profit. 

Trust me, Memmius, you did aptly finger 
My passivity, fool'd me most supinely. 

Friends, confess it; in e'en as hard a fortune 
You stand mulcted, on you alike abashless 
Rake rides heavily. Court the great who wills it ! 

Gods and goddesses evil heap upon ye. 
Rogues to Romulus and to Remus outcast. 


Can any brook to see it, any tamely bear — 
If any, gamester, epicure, a wanton, he — 
Mamurra's own whatever all the curly Gauls 
Did else inherit, or the lonely Briton isle? 

Can you look on, look idly, filthy Romulus? 


Shall he, in o'er-assumption, o'er-repletion he, 
Sedately saunter every dainty couch along, 

A bright Adonis, as the snowy dove serene? ^ 
Can you look on, look idly, filthy Romulus? 

Look idly, gamester, epicure, a wanton, you. 

Unique commander, and was only this the plea 
Detain'd you in that islet angle of the west. 
To gorge the shrunk seducer irreclaimable 
With haply twice a million, add a million yet? 

What else was e'er unhealthy prodigality? 

The waste ? to lust a little ? on the belly less ? 
Begin ; a glutted hoard paternal ; ebb the first. 
To this, the booty Pontic ; add the spoil from out 
Iberia, known to Tagus' amber ory stream. 

Not only Gaul, nor only quail the Briton isles. 

What help a rogue to fondle? is not all his act 
To swallow monies, empty purses heap on heap? 

But you — to please him only, shame to Rome, to me ! 
Could you the son, the father, idly ruin all ? 


False Alfenus, in all amity frail, duty a prodigal. 
Doth thy pity depart? Shall not a friend, traitor, a friend 

Love? what courage is here me to betray, me to repudiate? 

Never sure did a lie, never a sin, please the celestials. 

This you heed not; alas! leave me to new misery, desolate. 
O where now shall a man trust ? liveth yet any fidelity ? 

^ The connexion between Adonis and the dove formed part of the 
legends of Cyprus, and was alluded to by the lyric poet Timocreon. 


You, you only did urge love to be free, life to surrender, you. 
Guiding into the snare, falsely secure, prophet of happiness. 

Now you leave me, retract, every deed, every word allow 
Into nullity winds far to remove, vapoury clouds to bear. 

You forget me, but yet surely the Gods, surely remembereth 
Faith; hereafter again honour awakes, causeth a wretch to 


O THOU of islands jewel and of half-islands, 
Fair Sirmio, whatever o'er the lakes' clear rim 
Or waste of ocean, Neptune holds, a two-fold pow'r; 

What joy have I to see thee, and to gaze what glee ! 

Scarce yet believing Thunia past, the fair champaign 
Bithunian, yet in safety thee to greet once more. 
From cares to part us — where is any joy like this? 

Then drops the soul her fardel, as the travel-tir'd 

World-weary wand'rer touches home, returns, sinks down 
In joy to slumber on the bed desir'd so long. 

This meed, this only counts for e'en an age all toil. 

O take a welcome, lovely Sirmio, thy lord's, 

And greet him happy ; greet him all the lake Lydian ; 
Laugh out whatever laughter at the hearth rings clear. 


List, I charge thee, my gentle Ipsithilla, 
Lovely ravisher and my dainty mistress, 
Say we'll linger a lazy noon together. 

Suits my company ? lend a farther hearing : 
See no jealousy make the gate against me, 
See no fantasy lead thee out a-roaming. 
Keep close chamber ; anon in all profusion 
Count me kisses again again returning. 


Bides thy will? with a sudden haste command me; 
Full and wistful, at ease reclin'd, a lover 
Here I languish alone, supinely dreaming. 


MASTER-robber of all that haunt the bath-rooms, 
Old Vibennius, and his heir the wanton ; 
(His the dirtier hands, the greedy father, 

Yours the filthier heart, his heir as hungry;) 

Please your knaveries hoist a sail for exile. 
Pains and privacy ? since by this the father's 
Thefts are palpable, and a rusty favour. 

Son, picks never a penny from the people. 


Great Diana protecteth us, 
Maids and boyhood in innocence. 
Maidens virtuous, innocent 

Boys, your song be Diana. 
Hail, Latonia, thou that art 
Throned daughter of enthronis'd 
Jove ; near Delian olive of 

Mighty mother y-boren. 
Queen of mountainous heights, of all 
Forests leafy, delightable; 
Glens in bowery depths remote. 

Rivers wrath fully sounding. 
Thee, Lucina, the travailing 
Mother haileth, a sovereign 
Juno; Trivia thou, the bright 

Moon, a glory reflected. 
Thou thine annual orb anew, 
Goddess, monthly remeasuring, 
Farmsteads lowly with affluent 

Corn dost fill to the flowing. 


Be thy heavenly name whate'er 
Name shall please thee, in hallowing; 
Still keep safely the glorious 

Race of Romulus olden. 



Take Caecilius, him the tender-hearted 
Bard, my paper, a wish from his Catullus. 
Come from Larius, haste to leave the new-built 

Comum's watery city, seek Verona. 

Some particular intimate reflexions 

One would tell thee, a friend we love together. 

So he'll quickly devour the way, if only 
He's no booby ; for all a snowy maiden 
Chide imperious, and her hands around him 

Both in jealousy clasp'd, refuse departure. 

She, if only report the truth bely not, 
Doats, as hardly within her own possession. 


For since lately she read his high-preluding 
Queen of Dindymus, all her heart is ever 
Melting inly with ardour and with anguish. 

Maiden, laudable is that high emotion. 

Muse more rapturous, you, than any Sappho. 
The Great Mother he surely sings divinely. 


Vilest paper of all dishonour, annals 
Of Volusius, hear my lovely lady's 


Vow, and pay it; awhile she swore to Venus 
And fond Cupid, if ever I returning 
Ceased from enmity, left to launch iambics. 

She would surely devote the sorry poet's 
Choicest rarities unto sooty Vulcan, 
The lame deity, there to blaze lamenting. 

With such drollery, such supreme defiance, 

Swore strange oath to the gods the naughty wanton. 

Now, O heavenly child of azure Ocean, 
Queen of Idaly, queen of Urian highlands. 

Who Ancona the fair, the reedy Cnidos 
Hauntest, Amathus and the lawny Golgi, 
Or Dyrrhachium, hostel Adriatic; 

Hear thy votaress, answer her petition ; 

'Tis most graceful, a dainty thought to charm thee. 

But ye verses, away to fire, to burning, 
Rank rusticities, empty vapid annals 
Of Volusius, heap of all dishonour. 


O FROWSY tavern, frowsy fellowship therein, 
Ninth post in order next beyond the twins cap-crown'd, 

Shall manly service none but you alone employ. 
Shall you alone whatever in the world smiles fair, 
Possess it, every other hold to lack esteem ? 

Or if in idiot impotence arow you sit. 

One hundred, yes two hundred, am not I, think you, 
A man to bring mine action on your whole row there? 

XI— 7 


So think not, he that likes not ; answer how you may, 
[With scorpion I, with emblem all your haunt will scrawl. 

For she the bright one, lately fled beyond these arms. 
The maid belov'd as maiden is belov'd no more, 
Whom I to win, stood often in the breach, fought long, 

Has sat amongst you. Her the grand, the great, all, all 
Do dearly love her ; yea, beshrew the damned wrong, 
Each slight seducer, every lounger highway-born. 

You chiefly, peerless paragon of the tribe long-lock'd, 
Rude Celtiberia's child, the bushy rabbit-den, 

Egnatius, so modish in the big bush-beard. 

And teeth a native lotion hardly scours quite pure. 


CoRNiFlcius, ill is your Catullus, 

111, ah heaven, a weary weight of anguish, 
More more weary with every day, with each hour. 

You deny me the least, the very lightest 

Help, one whisper of happy thought to cheer me. 

Nay, I'm sorrowful. You to slight my passion? 
Ah ! one word, but a tiny word to cheer me. 
Sad as ever a tear Simonidean. 


Egnatius, spruce owner of superb white teeth, 
Smiles sweetly, smiles for ever : is the bench in view 
Where stands a pleader just prepar'd to rouse our tears. 


Egnatius smiles sweetly ; near the pyre they mourn 
Where weeps a mother o'er the lost, the kind one son, 
Egnatius smiles sweetly ; what the time or place 

Or thing soe'er, smiles sweetly ; such a rare compliant 
Is his, not handsome, scarce to please the town, say I. 

So take a warning for the nonce, my friend ; town-bred 
Were you, a Sabine hale, a pearly Tiburtine, 
A frugal Umbrian body, Tuscan huge of paunch, 

A grim Lanuvian black of hue, prodigious-tooth'd, 
A Transpadane, my country not to pass untax'd, 
In short whoever cleanly cares to rinse foul teeth. 

Yet sweetly smiling ever I would have you not. 
For silly laugiiter, it's a silly thing indeed. 


Well: you're a Celtiberian; in the parts thereby 

What pass'd the night in water, every man, came dawn, 
Scours clean the foul teeth with it and the gums rose-red ; 

So those Iberian snowy teeth, the more they shine, 
So much the deeper they proclaim the draught impure. 


What fatality, what chimera drives thee 
Headlong, Ravidus, on to my iambics ? 

What fell deity, most malign to listen. 
Fires thy fury to quarrel unavailing? 

Wouldst thou busy the breath of half the people? 
Break with clamour at any cost the silence ? 


Thou wilt do it; a wretch that hop'd my darhng 
Love to fondle, a sure retaliation. 


Ameana, the maiden of the people, 

Ask me sesterces, all the many thousands. 

Maiden she with a nose not wholly faultless, 
Bankrupt Formian, your declar'd devotion. 

Wherefore look to the maiden, her relations: 
Call her family, summon all the doctors. 

Your poor maiden is oddly touch'd ; a mirror 
Sure would lend her a soberer reflexion. 


Come all hendecasyllables whatever, 

Wheresoever ye house you, all whatever. 

I the game of an impudent adultress? 
She refuse to return to me the tablets 
Where you syllable ? O ye can't be silent. 

Up, have after her, ask renunciation. 

Would ye know her? a woman, you shall eye her 
Strutting loftily, whiles she laughs a loud laugh 
Vast and vulgar, a Gaulish hound beseeming. 

Form your circle about her, ask her, urge her. 

* Hark, adultress, hand the note-book over. 
Hark, the note-book, adultress, hand it over.' 

What? you scorn us? O ugly filth, detested 
Trull, whatever is all abomination. 


Nay then, louder. Enough as yet it is not. 
If this only remains, perhaps the dog-like • 
Face may colour, a brassy blush may yield us. 
Swell your voices in higher harsher yellings, 

* Hark, adultress, hand the note-bood over ; 

Hark, the note-book ; adultress, hand it over.' 

Look, she moves not at all : we waste the moments. 
Change your quality, try another issue. 
Such composure a sweeter air may alter. 

* Pure and virtuous, hand the note-book over.' 


Hail, fair virgin, a nose among the larger. 
Feet not dainty, nor eyes to match a raven. 
Mouth scarce tenible,^ hands not wholly faultless, 
Tongue most surely not absolute refinement, 

Bankrupt Formian, your declar'd devotion. 
Thou the beauty, the talk of all the province? 
Thou my Lesbia tamely think to rival? 

O preposterous, empty generation ! 


O THOU my Sabine farmstead or my Tiburtine, 

For who Catullus would not harm, avow, kind souls. 
Thou surely art at Tibur ; and who quarrel will 

Sabine declare thee, stake the world to prove their say: 

But be'st a Sabine, be'st a very Tiburtine, 
At thy suburban villa what delight I knew 
To spit the tiresome cough away, my lung's' ill guest, 
My belly brought me, not without a sad weak sin. 

Because a costly dinner I desir'd too much. 

^ i. e., easily running over. 


For I, to feast with Sestius, that host unmatch'd, 
A speech of his, pure poison, every line deep-drugg'd, 
His speech against the plaintiff Antius, read through. 

Whereat a cold chill, soon a gusty cough in fits, 
Shook, shook me ever, till to thy retreat I fled, 
There duly dosed with nettle and repose found cure. 
So, now recruited, thanks superlative, dear farm, 

I give thee, who so lightly didst avenge that sin. 

And trust me, farm, if ever I again take up 

With Sextius' black charges, I'll rebel no more; 
But let the chill things damn to cold, to cough, not me 

That read the volume — no, but him, the man's vain self. 



While Septimius in his arms his Acme 

Fondled closely, ' My own,' said he, ' my Acme, 

If I love not as unto death, nor hold me 
Ever faithfully well-prepar'd to largest 
Strain of fiery wooer yet to love thee. 

Then in Libya, then may I alone in 
Burning India face a sulky lion.' 

Scarce he ended, upon the right did eager 
Love sneeze amity ; 'twas before to leftward. 

Acme quietly back her head reclining 

Towards her boy, with a rosy mouth delightful. 
Kissed his passionate eyes elately swimming, 

Then ' Septimius, O my life ' she murmur'd, 
* So may he that is in this hour ascendant 


Rule us ever, as in me burns a greater 
Fire, a fiercer, in every vein triumphing.' 

Scarce she ended, upon the right did eager 
Love sneeze amity; 'twas before to leftward. 

So, that augury joyous each possessing, 
Loves, is lov'd with an even emulation. 

Poor Septimius, all to please his Acme, 
Recks not Syria, recks not any Britain. 

In Septimius only faithful Acme 

Makes her softnesses, holds her happy pleasures. 

When did mortal on any so rejoicing 
Look, on union hallow'd as divinely? 


Now soft spring with her early w^armth returneth, 
Now doth Zephyrus, health benignly breathing, 
Still the boisterous equinoctial heaven. 

Leave we Phrygia, leave the plains, Catullus, 
Leave Nicaea, the sultry soil of harvest: 

On for Asia, for the starry cities. 

Now all flurry the soul is out a-ranging, 

Now with vigour aflame the feet renew them. 

Farewell company true, my lovely comrades. 
You so joyfully borne from home together. 
Now o'er many a weary way returning. 


PoRCius, Socration, the greedy Piso's 

Tools of thievery, rogues to famish ages, 


So that filthy Priapus ousts to please you 
My Veranitis even and Fabullus? 

What? shall you then at early noon carousing 
Lap in luxury? they, my jolly comrades, 
Search the streets on a quest of invitation? 


If, Juventius, I the grace win ever 

Still on beauteous honied eyes to kiss thee, 
I would kiss them a million, yet a million. 

Yea, nor count me to win the full attainment, 
Not, tho' heavier e'en than ears at harvest, 
Fall my kisses, a wealthy crop delightful. 


Greatest speaker of any born a Roman, 
Marcus Tullius, all that are, that have been, 
That shall ever in after-years be famous; 

Thanks superlative unto thee Catullus 
Renders, easily last among the poets. 

He is easily last among the poets 

As thou surely the first among the pleaders. 



Dear Lucinius, yestereve we linger'd 

Scrawling fancies, a hundred, in my tablets, 
Wits in combat; a treaty this between us. 

Scribbling drolleries each of us together 
Launched one arrowy metre and another, 
Tenders jocular o'er the merry wine-cup. 


So quite sorely with all your humour heated 
Gay Lucinius, I that eve departed. 

Food my misery could not any lighten, 
Sleep nor quiet upon my eyes descended. 

Still untamable o'er the couch did I then 
Turn and tumble, in haste to see the day-light, 
Hear your prattle again, again be with you. 

Then, when weary with all the worry, numb'd, dead, 
Sank my body, upon the bed reposing, 
This, O humorous heart, did I, a poem 
.Write, my tedious anguish all revealing. 

O beware then of hardihood ; a lover's 

Plea for charity, dear my friend, reject not: 
What if Nemesis haply claim repayment? 
She is tyrannous. O beware offending. 


He to me like unto the Gods appeareth. 
He, if I dare speak it, ascends above them. 
Face to face who toward thee attently sitting 

Gazes or hears thee 
Lovely in sweet laughter; alas within me 
Every lost sense falleth away for anguish; 
When as I look'd on thee, upon my lips no 

Whisper abideth. 
Straight my tongue froze, Lesbia ; soon a subtle 
Fire thro' each limb streameth adown ; with inward 
Sound the full ears tinkle, on either eye night's 

Canopy darkens. 


Ease alone, Catullus, alone afflicts thee; 
Ease alone breeds error of heady riot; 
Ease hath entomb'd princes of old renown and 
Cities of honour. 


Enough, Catullus! how can you delay to die? 
If in the curule chair a hump sits. Nonius; 
A would-be consul lies in hope, Vatinius: 
Enough, Catullus! how can you delay to die? 


How I laughed at a wag amid the circle! 
He, when Calvus in high denunciation 
Of Vatinius had declaim'd divinely, 
Hands uplifted as in supreme amazement, 
Cried ' God bless us ! a wordy cockalorum ! ' 


Otho's head is a very dwarf; a rustic's 
Shanks has Herius, only semi-cleanly; 
Libo's airs to a fume of art refine them. 

Yet thou Hee'st not above my keen iambics. 

\_So may destiny doom me quite to silence] 
As I care not if every line offend thee 
And Sufficius, age in youth's revival. 

Thou shalt kindle at innocent iambics, 
Mighty general, once again returning. 



List, I beg, provided you're in humour, 

Speak your privacy, show what alley veils you. 

You I sought on Campus, I, the lesser. 

You on Circus, in all the bills but you, sir. 

You with father Jove in holy temple. 

Then, where flocks the parade to Magnus' arches, 

Friend, I hail'd each lady promenader, 
Each, I found, did face me auite sedately. 

What ? they steal, I loudly cried, protesting, 
My Camerius? out upon the wenches! 

Answer'd one and lightly bared a bosom, 
* See ! what bowery roses ; here he hides him.' 

Yea 'twould task e'en Hercules to bear you. 
You so scornful, friend, in your refusing. 


Not tho' I were warder of the Cretans, 
Not tho' Pegasus on his airy pinion, 

Perseus feathery-footed, I a Ladas, 

Rhesus' chariot yok'd to snowy coursers, 

Add each feathery sandal, every flying 

Power, ask fleetness of all the winds of heaven, 

Mine, Camerius, and to me devoted; 

Yet with drudgery sorely spent should I, yet 

Worn, outworn with languor unto languor 
Faint, O friend, in an empty quest to find you. 


Say, where think you anon to be; declare it, 

Fair and free, submit, commit to dayhght. 
What? still thrall to the lovely lily ladies? 

Keep close mouth, lock fast the tongue within it. 
Love's felicity falls without fruition; 

Venus still is free to talk, a babbler. 
Yet close palate, and if ye will it; only 

In my love some part to bear refuse not. 


O RARE sympathies ! happy rakes united ! 
There Mamurra the woman, here a Caesar. 

Who can wonder? An ugly brand on either, 
His, true Formian, his, politely Roman, 
Rests indelible, in the bone residing. 

Either infamous, each a twin dishonour, 
Bookish brethren, a dainty pair pedantic ; 

One adultrous, as hungry he ; with equal 
Parts in women, a lusty corporation. 
O rare sympathies! happy rakes united! 


That bright Lesbia, Caelius, the self-same 
Peerless Lesbia, she than whom Catullus 
Self nor family more devoutly cherish'd, 
By foul roads, or in every shameful alley. 
Strains the vigorous issue of the people. 


Poor Rufa from Bononia Rufulus gallants, 
Menenius' errant lady, she that in grave-yards 


(You've seen her often) snaps from every pile her meal, 

When hotly chasing dusty loaves the fire rolls down, 

She felt some half-shorn corpseman and his hand's big blow. 


Hadst thou a Libyan lioness on heights all stone, 

A Scylla, barking wolvish at the loins' last verge, 

To bear thee, O black-hearted, O to shame forsworn. 

That unto supplication in my last sad need 

Thou mightst not barken, deaf to ruth, a beast, no man? 


God, on verdurous HeHcon 

Dweller, child of Urania, 

Thou that draw'st to the man the fair 
Maiden, O Hymenaeus, O 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus: 

Wreathe thy brows in amaracus' 
Fragrant blossom; an aureat 
Veil be round thee ; approach, in all 

Joy, approach with a luminous 
Foot, a sandal of amber. 

Come, for jolly the time, awake. 
Chant in melody musical 
Hymns of bridal; on earth a foot 

Beating, hands to the winds above 
Torches oozily swinging. 

Such, as she that on Idaly 
Venus dwelleth, appear' d before 
Him, the Phrygian arbiter, 

So with Mallius happily 
Happy Junia weddeth. 


Like some myrtle of Asia 
Bright in airily blossoming 
Boughs, the wood Hamadryades 

Nurse with showery dew, to be 
Theirs, a tender plaything. 

So come to us in haste; away. 
Leave thy Thespian hollow-arch'd 
Rock, muse-haunted, Aonian, 

Drench'd in spray from aloft, the cold 
Drift of Nymph Aganippe. 

Homeward summon a sovereign 
Wife most passionate, holden in 
Love fast prisoner; ivy not 

Closer closes an elm around, 
Interchangeably trailing. 

You too with him, O you for whom 
Comes as joyous a time, your own. 
Virgins stainless of heart, arise. 

Chant in unison, Hymen, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

That, more readily listening, 
Whiles your song to familiar 
Duty calls him, he hie apace, 

Lord of fair paramours, of youth's 
Fair affection uniter. 

Who more worthy than he to list 
Lovers wearily languishing? 
Bends from heaven a sovereign 
God adorabler? Hymen, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

You the father in years for his 

Child beseecheth ; a virginal 
Zone falls slackly to earth for you, 


You half-fear in his hankering 
Lists the groomsman approaching. 

You from motherly lap the bright 

Girl can sever; your hands divine 

Gives dominion, ushering 
Warm the lover. O Hymen, O 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

Nought delightful, if you be far, 
Nought unharmed of envious 
Tongues, Love wins him : if you be near 

Much he wins him. O excellent 
God, that hath not a rival. 

Houses cannot, if you be far. 

Yield their children, a babe renew 
Sire or mother : if you be near, 

Comes renewal. O excellent 
God, that hath not a rival. 

If your great ceremonial 
Fail, no champion yeomanry 
Guards the border. If you be near 

Arms the border. O excellent 
God, that hath not a rival. 

Fling the portal apart. The bride 
'Waits. O see ye the luminous 
Torch-flakes ruddily flickering? 

Nought she hears us : ner innocent 
Eyes do weep to be going. 


Weep not, lady; for envious 

Tongue no lovelier owneth, Au- 
Runculeia; nor any more 

Fair saw rosily bright the dawn 
Leave his chamber in Ocean. 

Such in many a flowering 

Garden, trimm'd for a lord's delight. 
Stands some delicate hyacinth. 

Yet you tarry. The day declines. 
Forth, fair bride, to the people. 

Forth, fair bride, to the people, if 
So it likes you, a-listening 
Words that please us. O eye ye yon 

Torches ruddily flickering? 
Forth, fair bride, to the people. 

Husband never of yours shall haunt 
Stained wanton, a mutinous 
Fancy shamefully following. 

Tire not ever, or e'en from your 
Dainty bosom unyoke him. 

He more lithe than a vine amid 
Trees, that, mazily folded, it 
Clasps and closes, in amorous 

Arms shall close thee. The day declines. 
Forth, fair bride, to the people. 

Couch of pleasure. O odorous 

Couch, zvhose gorgeous apparellings, 
Silver-purple, on Indian 

Woods do rest them; adown the bright 
Feet in ivory glisten; 

When thy lord in his hour attains. 
What large extasy, while the night 
Fleets, or noon the meridian 

POEMS 101 

Passes thoro'. The day declines. 
Forth, fair bride, to the people. 

Lift the torches aloft in air, 
Boys : the fiery veil is here. 
Come, to measure your hymn rehearse. 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

Nor withhold ye the countryman's 

Ribald raillery Fescenine. 

Nor if happily boys declare 
Thy dominion attaint, refuse, 

Youth, the nuts to be flinging. 

Fling, O womanish youth; the boys 
Ask thee charity. Time agone 
Toys and folly: to-day begins 

Our high duty, Talassius. 

Hasten, youth, to be flinging. 

Thou didst surely but yestereve 
Mock the women, a favourite 
Far above them : anon the first 

Beard, the razor. Alack, alas! 
Hasten, youth, to be flinging. 

You, whom odorous oils declare 
Bridegroom, swerve not ; a slippery 
Love calls lightly, but yet refrain. 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

Lawful only did e'er delight 

You, we know; but it is not, O 
Husband, lawful as heretofore. 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 



Bride, thou also, if he demand 
Aught, refuse not, assent, obey. 
Love can angrily pipe adieu. 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

Look! thy mansion, a sovereign 
Home most goodly, by him to thee 
Given. Reign as a queen within, 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

Still when hoary decrepitude, 
Shaking wintery brows benign, 
Nods a tremulous Yes to all. 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

With fair augury smite the blest 
Threshold, sunnily glistening 
Feet : yon ivory door approach. 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

See one seated, a banqueter. 
'Tis thy lord on a Tyrian 
Couch : his spirit is all to thee. 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

Not less surely in him than in 
Thee love lighteth a bosoming 
Flame ; but deeper, a fire within. 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

\^A sta'ma is missing here.'\ 

POEMS 103 

Thou, whose purple her arm, the slim 

Arm, props happily, boy, depart. 

Time the bride be at entering. 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

You in chastity tried the long 
Years, good women of agedest 
Husbands, lay ye the bride to-night. 

Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O 
Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 

Husband, stay not : a bride within 
Coucheth ready, the flowering 
Spring less lovely; a countenance 
White as parthenice, beyond 
Yellow poppy to gaze on. 

Thou, so help me the favouring 
Gods immortal, as heavenly 
Fair art also, adorned of 

Venus' bounty. The day declines. 
Come nor tarry to greet her. 

Not too slothfully tarrying, 
Thou art here. Benediction of 
Venus help thee, a man without 

Shame, a blameless, a love that is 
Honest frankly revealing. 

Dust of infinite Africa, 

Stars that sparkle, a myriad 

Host, wlio measurelli. your delights 

He shall tell them, ineffable, 
Multitudinous, over. 

Make your happy delight, renew'd 
Soon in children. A glorious 
Name and olden is ill without 


Children, unto the first a new 
Stock as goodly begetting. 

Some Torquatus, a beauteous 

Babe, on motherly breasts to thee 
Stretching, father, his innocent 
Hands, smile softly from inchoate 
Lips half-open a welcome. 

Like his father, a Mallius 
New presented, of every 
Eyeing stranger allowed his own; 

Mother's chastity moulded in 
Features childly revealing. 

Glory speak of him issuing 
Child of mother as excellent 
She, as only that age-renown'd 

,Wife, whose story Telemachus 
Blazons, Penelopea. 

Virgins, close ye the door. Enough 
This our carol. O happiest 
Lovers, jollity live with you. 

Still that genial youth to love's 
Consummation attend ye. 



Hesper is here; rise youths, rise all of you; high on Olympus 
Hesper his orb long-look'd for aloft 'gins slowly to kindle. 
Time is now to arise, from tables costly to part us ; 
Now doth a virgin approach, now soundeth a glad Ilyme- 

Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 

POEMS 105 


See ye yon youthful band? O, maidens, rise ye to meet them. 
Comes not Night's bright bearer a fire o'er Oeta reveaHng ? 
Surely; for even now, in a moment all have arisen, 
Not for nought have arisen; a song waits, goodly to gaze 

Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 


No light victory this, O comrades, ready before us. 
Busy the virgins muse, their practis'd ditty recalling, 
Muse nor shall miscarry; a song for memory waits us. 
Rightly; for all their souls do inwards labour in issue. 

We — our thoughts one way, our ears have drifted another, 
So comes worthy defeat; no victory calls to the careless. 
Come then, in even race let thought their melody rival; 
They must open anon ; 'twere better anon be replying. 

Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 


Hesper, moveth in heaven a light more tyrannous ever? 

Thou from a mother's arms canst wrest her daughter 

Wrest from a mother's arms her daughter woefully cling- 

Then to the burning youth his virgin beauty deliver. 

Foes in a new-sack'd town, when wrought they crueller 

Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 



Hesper, shineth in heaven a light more genial ever? 
Thou with a bridal flame true lovers' unity crownest, 
All which duly the men, which plighted duly the parents, 
Then completed alone, when thou in splendour awakest. 
When shone an happier hour than thy god-speeded arriv- 

Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 


Sisters, Hesper a fellow of our bright company taketh. 

[^Six lines of this stanza are here missing^ 
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 


Hesper, awaiting thee each sentinel holdeth alarum. 

Night veils love's false thieves; thieves still when, Hesper, 

Name, but unalter'd still, thou tak'st them surely, return- 

Yet be the maidens pleas'd in woeful fancy to chide thee. 

Maybe for all they chide, their hearts do inly desire thee. 

Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 


Look in a garden-croft when a flower privily growing, 
Hide from grazing kine, by ploughshare never y-broken, 

POEMS 107 

Strok'd by the breeze, by the sun nurs'd sturdily, rear'd by 

the showers; 
Many a wistful boy, and maidens many desire it: 

Yet if a slender nail hath nipt his bloom to deflour it, 
Never a wistful boy, nor maidens any desire it: 

Such is a girl untoy'd with as yet, yet lovely to kinsmen ; 
Once her body profan'd, her flow'r of chastity blighted. 
Boys no more she delights, nor seems so lovely to maidens ; 

Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 


Look as a lone lorn vine in a bare field sorrily growing. 
Never an arm uplifts, no grape to maturity ripens. 

Only with headlong weight her tender body declining. 
Bows, till topmost spray and roots meet feebly together; 
Her no peasant swain, nor bullock tendeth her ever: 

Yet to the bachelor elm if marriage- fortune unite her, 
Many a peasant tills and bullocks many about her; 

Such is a maid untoy'd with as yet, in loneliness aging ; 

Wins she a bridegroom meet, in time's warm fulness ar- 
So to the man more dear, and less unlovely to parents. 

O then, clasp thy love, nor fight, fair maiden, against him. 
Sin 'twere surely to fight ; thy father gave to his arms thee, 
Father's self and mother; obey nor wrongly defy them. 

Virgin's crown thou claim' st not alone, but partly the parents, 
Father's one whole part, one goes to the mother allotted. 
Rests one only to thee ; O fight not with them alone thou, 
Both to a son their rights and both their dowry deliver. 

Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 



In a swift ship Attis hasting over ocean a mariner 

When he gained the wood, the Phrygian, with a foot of 

When he near'd the leafy forest, dark sanctuary divine; 
By unearthly fury frenzied, a bewildered agony, 
With a flint of edge he shatter'd to the ground his hu- 
Then aghast to see the lost limbs, the deform'd inutility, 
While still the gory dabble did anew the soil pollute, 
With a snowy palm the woman took affrayed a taborine. 
Taborine, the trump that hails thee, Cybele, thy initiant. 
Then a dainty finger heaving to the tremulous hide o' the 

He began this invocation to the company, spirit-awed. 

" To the groves, ye sexless eunuchs, in assembly to Cybele, 
Lost sheep that err rebellious to the lady Dindymene ; 
Ye, who all av^^ing for exile in a country of aliens, 
My unearthly rule obeying to be with me, my retinue, 
Could ably the surly salt seas' mid inexorability. 
Could in utter hate to lewdness your sex dishabilitate ; 

Let a gong clash glad emotion, set a giddy fury to roam, 
All slow delay be banish'd, thither hie ye thither away 
To the Phrygian home, the wild wood, to the sanctuary 
divine ; 

Where rings the noisy cymbal, taborines are in echoing. 
On a curved oat the Phrygian deep pipeth a melody. 
With a fury toss the Maenads clad in ivies a frolic head, 
To a barbarous ululation the religious orgy wakes, 
Where fleets across the silence Cybele's holy family; 
Thither hie we, so beseems us; to a mazy measure away." 

Thus as Attis, a woman, Attis, not a woman, urg'd the rest. 
On a sudden yell'd in huddling agitation every tongue, 

POEMS 109 

Taborines give airy murmur, give a clangorous echo gongs, 
With a rush the brotherhood hastens to the woods, the 

bosom of Ide. 
Then in agony, breathless, errant, flush'd wearily, cometh 

Taborine behind him, Attis, thoro' leafy glooms a guide. 
As a restive heifer yields not to the cumbrous onerous yoke. 
Thither hie the votaress eunuchs with an emulous alacrity. 
Now faintly sickly plodding to the goddess's holy shrine, 
They took the rest which easeth long toil, nor ate withal. 
Slow sleep descends on eyelids ready drowsily to decline, 
In a soft repose departeth the devout spirit-agony. 
.When awoke the sun, the golden, that his eyes heaven- 
Scann'd lustrous air, the rude seas, earth's massy solidity, 
When he smote the shadowy twiHght with his healthy 

team sublime, 
Then arous'd was Attis ; o'er him sleep hastily fled away 
To Pasithea's arms immortal with a tremulous hovering. 
But awaked from his reposing, the delirious anguish o'er. 
When as Attis' heart recalled him to the past solitarily. 
Saw clearly where he stood, what, an annihilate apathy, 
With a soul that heaved within him, to the water he fled 

Then as o'er the waste of ocean with a rainy eye he gazed 
To the land of home he murmur'd miserably a soliloquy. 

"Mother-home of all affection, dear home, my nativity, 
Whom in anguish I deserting, as in hatred a runaway 
From a master, hither have hurried to the lonely woods 
of Ide, 

To be with the snows, the wild beasts, in a wintry domicile. 
To be near each savage houser that a surly fury provokes. 
What horizon, O beloved, may attain to thee anywhere? 

Yet an eyeless orb is yearning ineffectually to thee. 
For a little ere returneth the delirious hour again. 


Shall a homeless Attis hie him to the groves uninhabited? 
Shall he leave a country, wealth, friends? bid a sire, a 

mother, adieu? 
The palaestra lost, the forum, the gymnasium, the course? 

O unhappy, fall a-weeping, thou unhappy soul, for aye. 

For is honour of any semblance, any ueauty but of it I? 
Who, a woman here, in order was a man, a youth, a boy, 
To the sinewy ring a fam'd flower, the gymnasium's ap- 

With a throng about the portal, with a populace in the gate, 
With a flowery coronal hanging upon every column of 

When anew my chamber open'd, as awoke the sunny morn. 

O am I to live the god's slave ? f eodary be to Cybele ? 
Or a Maenad I, an eunuch? or a part of a body slain? 

Or am I to range the green tracts upon Ida snowy-chill ? 
Be beneath the stately caverns colonnaded of Asia? 
Be with hind that haunts the covert, or in hursts that house 
the boar? 

Woe, woe the deed accomplish'd ! woe, woe, the shame to 

From rosy lips ascending when approached the gusty cry 
To celestial ears recording such a message inly borne, 
Cybele, the thong relaxing from a lion-haled yoke. 
Said, ale ft the goad addressing to the foe that awes the 
flocks — 

"Come, a service; haste, my brave one; let a fury the mad- 
man arm, 
Let a fury, a frenzy prick him to return to the wood again, 
This is he my best declineth, the unheedy, the run-away. 

POEMS 111 

From an angry tail refuse not to abide the sinewy stroke, 
To a roar let all the regions echo answer everywhere, 
On a nervy neck be tossing that uneasy tawny mane." 

So in ire she spake, adjusting disunitedly then her yoke 
At his own rebuke the lion doth his heart to a fury spur, 
With a step, a roar, a bursting unarrested of any brake. 
But anear the foamy places when he came, to the frothy 

When he saw the sexless Attis by the seas' level opaline. 
Then he rushed upon him; affrighted to the wintery wood 

he flew, 
Cybele's for aye, for all years, in her order a votaress 
Holy deity, great Cybele, holy lady Dindymene, 
Be to me afar for ever that inordinate agony. 
O another hound to madness, O another hurry to rage! 


Born on Pelion height, so legend hoary relateth, 

Pines once floated adrift on Neptune billowy streaming 
On to the Phasis flood, to the borders yE^tean. 
Then did a chosen array, rare bloom of valorous Argos, 
Fain from Colchian earth her fleece of glory to ravish. 
Dare with a keel of swiftness adown salt seas to be fleeting, 
Swept with fir-blades oary the fair level azure of Ocean. 
Then that deity bright, who keeps in cities her high ward, 
Made to delight them a car, to the light breeze airily scud- 
Texture of upright pine with a keel's curved rondure 

That first sailer of all burst ever on Amphitrite. 

Scarcely the forward snout tore up that wintery water, 
Scarcely the wave foamed white to the reckless harrow of 

Straight from amid white eddies arose wild faces of Ocean, 
Nereid, earnest-eyed, in wondrous admiration. 


Then, not after again, saw ever mortal unharmed 
Sea-born Nymphs unveil limbs flushing naked about them, 
Stark to the nursing breasts from foam and billow arising. 
Then, so stories avow, burn'd Peleus hotly to Thetis, 
Then to a mortal lover abode not Thetis unheeding, 
Then did a father agree Peleus with Thetis unite him. 

O in an aureat hour, O born in bounteous ages, 

God-sprung heroes, hail : hail, mother of all benediction, 
You my song shall address, you melodies everlasting. 
Thee most chiefly, supreme in glory of heavenly bridal, 
Peleus, stately defence of Thessaly, luppiter even 
Gave thee his own fair love, thy mortal pleasure approving. 
Thee could Thetis inarm, most beauteous Ocean-daughter? 
Tethys adopt thee, her own dear grandchild's wooer usurp- 
Ocean, who earth's vast globe with a watery girdle in- 
orbeth ? 

When the delectable hour those days did fully determine. 
Straightway then in crowds all Thessaly flock'd to the 

Thronging hosts uncounted, a company joyous approach- 
Many a gift they carry, delight their faces illumines. 
Left is Scyros afar, and Phthia's bowery Tempe, 
Vacant Crannon's homes, unvisited high Larsa, 
Towards Pharsalia's halls, Pharsalia's only they hie them. 

Bides no tiller afield; necks soften of oxen in idlesse; 

Feel not a prong'd crook'd hoe lush vines all weedily trail- 

Tears no steer deep clods with a downward coulter un- 
earthed ; 

Prunes no hedger's bill broad-verging verdurous arbours ; 

Steals a deforming rust on ploughs left rankly to moulder. 

But that sovran abode, each sumptuous inly retiring 
Chamber, aflame with gold, with silver is all resplendant; 

POEMS 113 

Thrones gleam ivory-white; cup-crown'd blaze brightly the 

tables ; 
All the domain with treasure of empery gaudily flushes. 

There, set deeply within the remotest centre, a bridal 

Bed doth a goddess inarm; smooth ivory glossy from 

Robed in roseate hues, rich seashells' purple adorning. 

It was a broidery freak'd with tissue of images olden, 
One whose curious art did blazon valour of heroes. 
Gazing forth from a beach of Dia the billow-resounding, 
Look'd on a vanish'd fleet, on Theseus quickly departing. 
Restless in unquell'd passion, a feverous heart, Ariadne. 
Scarcely her eyes yet seem their seeming clearly to vision. 
You might guess that arous'd from slumber's drowsy be- 
Sand-engirded, alone, then first she knew desolation. 
He the betrayer — his oars with fugitive hurry the waters 
Beat, each promise of old to the winds given idly to bear 

Him from amid shore-weeds doth Minos' daughter, in an- 
Rigid, a Bacchant- form, dim-gazing stonily follow. 
Stonily still, wave-tost on a sea of troublous affliction. 
Holds not her yellow locks the tiara's feathery tissue ; 
Veils not her hidden breast light brede of drapery woven ; 
Binds not a cincture smooth her bosom's orbed emotion. 
Widely from each fair limb that footward-fallen apparel 
Drifts its lady before, in billowy salt loose-playing. 

Not for silky tiara nor amice gustily floating 

Recks she at all any more ; thee, Theseus, ever her earnest 
Heart, all clinging thought, all chained fancy requireth. 
Ah unfortunate! whom with miseries ever crazing. 
Thorns in her heart deep planted, affray'd Erycina to mad- 


From that earlier hour, when fierce for victory Theseus 
Started alert from a beach deep-inleted of Piraeus, 
Gain'd Gortyna's abode, injurious halls of oppression. 

Once, 'tis sung in stories, a dire distemper atoning 

Death of an ill-blest prince, Androgeos, angrily slaughter'd, 
Taxed of her youthful array, her maidenly bloom fresh- 
Feast to the monster bull, Cecropia, ransom-laden. 
Then, when a plague so deadly, the garrison under-mining, 
Spent that slender city, his Athens dearly to rescue. 
Sooner life Theseus and precious body did offer, 
Ere his country to Crete freight corpses, a life in seeming. 
So with a ship fast-fleeted, a gale blown gently behind him, 

Push'd he his onward journey to Minos' haughty dominion. 

Him for very delight when a virgin fondly desiring 
Gazed on, a royal virgin, in odours silkly nestled, 
Pure from a maiden's couch, from a mother's pillowy 

Like some myrtle, anear Eurotas' water arising, 
Like earth's myriad hues, spring's progeny, rais'd to the 

breezes : 
Droop'd not her eyes their gaze unquenchable, ever-burning 
Save when in each charm'd limb to the depths enfolded, a 

Flame blazed hotly within her, in all her marrow abiding. 

O thou cruel of heart, thou madding worker of anguish. 
Boy immortal, of whom joy springs with misery blending. 
Yea, thou queen of Golgi, of Idaly leaf-embower'd, 
O'er what a fire love-lit, what billows wearily tossing, 
Drave ye the maid, for a guest so sunnily lock'd deep 

What most dismal alarms her swooning fancy did echo ! 
Oft what a sallower hue than gold's cold glitter upon her! 
Whiles, heart-hungry in arms that monster deadly to com- 
Theseus drew towards death or victory, guerdon of honour. 

POEMS 115 

Yet not lost the devotion, or offer'd idly the virgin's 
Gifts, as her unvoic'd Hps breathed incense faintly to 

As on Taurus aloft some oak agitatedly waving 

Tosses his arms, or a pine cone-mantled, oozily rinded, 
When as his huge gnarled trunk in furious eddies a whirl- 
Riving wresteth amain ; dow'n falleth he, upward hoven, 
Falleth on earth ; far, near, all crackles brittle around him, 
So to the ground Theseus his fallen foeman abasing. 
Slew, that his horned front toss'd vainly, a sport to the 

Thence in safety, a victor, in height of glory returned, 
Guiding errant feet to a thread's impalpable order. 
Lest, upon egress bent thro' tortuous aisles labyrinthine, 
Walls of blindness, a maze unravell'd ever, elude him. 

Yet, for again I come to the former story, beseems not 
Linger on all done there; how left that daughter a gazing 
Father, a sister's arms, her mother woefully clinging. 
Mother, who o'er that child moan'd desperate, all heart- 
broken ; 
How not in home that maid, in Theseus only delighted ; 
How her ship on a shore of foaming Dia did harbour; 
How, when her eyes lay bound in slumber's shadowy prison. 
He forsook, forgot her, a wooer traitorous-hearted : 

Oft, say stories, at heart with frenzied fantasy burning, 

Pour'd she, a deep-wrung breast, clear-ringing cries of op- 
pression ; 

Sometimes mournfully clomb to the mountain's rugged as- 

Straining thence her vision across wide surges of ocean; 

Now to the brine ran forth, upsplashing freshly to meet 

Lifting raiment fine her thighs which softly did open; 

Last, when sorrow had end, these words thus spake she 


While from a mouth tear-stain'd chill sobs gushed dolorous 

'Look, is It here, false heart, that rapt from country, from 

Household altar ashore, I wander, falsely deserted ? 

Ah ! is it hence, Theseus, that against high heaven a traitor 
Homeward thou thy vileness, alas thy perjury bearest ? 

Might not a thought, one thought, thy cruel counsel abating 
Sway thee tender? at heart rose no compassion or any 
Mercy, to bend thy soul, or me for pity deliver? 

Yet not this thy promise of old, thy dearly remembered 
Voice, not these the delights thou bad'st thy poor one in- 
herit ; 
Nay, but wedlock happy, but envied joy hymeneal ; 

All now melted in air, with a light wind emptily fleeting. 

Let not a woman trust, since the first treason, a lover's 
Desperate oath, none hope true lover's promise is earnest. 
They, while fondly to win their amorous humour essayeth. 
Fear no covetous oath, all false free-promises heed not; 
They if once lewd pleasure attain unruly possession, 

Lo they fear not promise, of oath or perjury reck not. 

Yet indeed, yet I, when floods of death were around thee. 
Set thee on high, did rather a brother choose to defend not, 
Ere I, in hate's last hour, false heart, fail'd thee to deliver. 
Now, for a goodly reward, to the beasts they give me, the 
Fowls; no handful of earth shall bury me, pass'd to the 

What grim lioness yeaned thee, aneath what rock's desola- 

POEMS 117 

What wild sea did bear, what billows foamy regorged thee? 
Seething sand, or Scylla the snare, or lonely Charybdis? 
If for a life's dear joy comes back such only requital? 

Hadst not a will with spousal an honour'd wife to receive me? 

Awed thee a father stern, cross age's churlish avising? 

Yet to your household thou, your kindred palaces olden, 

Might'st have led me, to wait, joy-filled, a retainer upon 

Now in waters clear thy feet like ivory laving, 
Clothing now thy bed with crimson's gorgeous apparel. 

Yet to the brutish winds why moan I longer unheeded, 
Crazy with an ill wrong? They senseless, voiceless, in- 
Utter'd cry they hear not, in answers hollow reply not. 
He rides far already, the mid sea's boundary cleaving, 
Strays no mortal along these weeds stretched lonely about 

Thus to my utmost need chance, spite fuller injury dealing, 
Grudges an ear, where yet might lamentation have entry. 

Jove, almighty, supreme, O would that never in early 

Time on Gnossian earth great Cecrops' navies had har- 

Ne'er to that unquell'd bull with a ransom of horror aton- 
Moor'd on Crete his cable a shipman's wily dishonour. 
Never in youth's fair shape such ruthless stratagem hiding 
He, that vile one, a guest found with us a safe habitation. 

Whither flee then afar? what hope, poor lost one, upholds 
Mountains Idomenean? alas, broad surges of ocean 
Part us, a rough rude space of flowing water, asunder. 
Trust in a father's help? how trust, whom darkly desert- 
Him I turned to alone, my brother's bloody defier? 
XI— 9 


Nay, but a loyal lover, a hand pledg'd surely, shall ease me. 
Surely ; for o'er wide water his oars move flexibly fleeting. 

Also a desert lies this region, a tenantless island, 

Nowhere open way, seas splash in circle around me, 
Nowhere flight, no glimmer of hope; all mournfully silent, 

Loneliness all, all points me to death, death only remaining. 

Yet these luminous orbs shall sink not feebly to darkness. 
Yet from grief-worn limbs shall feeling wholly depart not, 
Till to the gods I cry, the betrayed, for justice on evil. 

Sue for life's last mercy the great federation of heaven. 

Then, O sworn to requite man's evil wrath fully. Powers 
Gracious, on whose grim brows, with viper tresses inorbed, 
Looks red-breathing forth your bosom's feverous anger ; 

Now, yea now come surely, to these loud miseries barken. 
All I cry, the afilicted, of inmost marrow arising, 
Desolate, hot with pain, with blinding fury bewilder'd. 

Yet, for of heart they spring, grief's children truly begotten, 
Verily, Gods, these moans you will not idly to perish. 
But with counsel of evil as he forsook me deceiving, 

Death to his house, to his heart, bring also counsel of evil. 

When from an anguish'd heart these words stream'd sorrow- 
ful upwards. 
Words which on iron deeds did sue for deadly requital, 
Bow'd with a nod of assent almighty the ruler of heaven. 
With that dreadful motion aneath earth's hollow, the rufiled 
Ocean shook, and stormy the stars 'gan tremble in ether. 
Thereto his heart thick-sown with blindness cloudily 

Thought not of all those words, Theseus, from memory 

Words which his heedful soul had kept immovable ever. 

POEMS 119 

Nor to his eager sire fair token of happy returning 
Rais'd, when his eyes safe-sighted Erectheus' populous 

Once, so stories tell, when Pallas' city behind him 
Leaving, Theseus' fleet to the winds given hopefully parted. 
Clasping then his son spake Aegeus, straitly commanding. 

Son, mine only deHght, than life more lovely to gaze on, 
Son, whom needs it faints me to launch full-tided on haz- 
Whom my Winter of years hath laid so lately before me: 

Since my fate unkindly, thy own fierce valour unheeding, 
Needs must wrest thee away, ere yet these dimly-lit eye- 
Feed to the full on thee, thy worshipt body beholding; 

Neither in exultation of heart I send thee a-warring; 

Nor to the fight shalt bear fair fortune's happier earnest ; 
Rather, first in cries mine heart shall lighten her anguish, 

When grey locks I sully with earth, with sprinkle of ashes; 

Next to the swaying mast shall a sail hang duskily swinging ; 
So this grief, mine own, this burning sorrow within me. 
Want not a sign, dark shrouds of Iberia, sombre as iron. 

Then, if haply the queen, lone ranger on haunted Itonus, 
Pleas'd to defend our people, Erectheus' safe habitations. 
Frown not, allow thine hand that bull all redly to slaughter. 

Look that warily then deep-laid in steady remembrance. 
These our words grow greenly, nor age move on to deface 
them ; 

Soon as on home's fair hills thine eyes shall signal a welcome. 
See that on each straight yard down droop their funeral 


Whitely the tight-strung cordage a sparkhng canvas aloft 

Which to behold straightway with joy shall cheer me, with 
Joy, when a prosperous hour shall bring to thee happy re- 

So for a while that charge did Theseus faithfully cherish. 
Last, it melted away, as a cloud which riven in ether 
Breaks to the blast, high peak and spire snow-silvery leav- 
But from a rock's wall'd eyrie the father wistfully gazing. 
Father whose eyes, care-dimm'd, wore hourly for ever a- 

Scarcely the v^ind-puff'd sail from afar 'gan darken upon 

Down the precipitous heights headlong his body he hurried, 
Deeming Theseus surely by hateful destiny taken. 
So to a dim death-palace, alert from victory, Theseus 
Came, what bitter sorrow to Minos' daughter his evil 
Perjury gave, himself with an even sorrow atoning. 
She, as his onward keel still moved, still mournfully fol- 

low'd ; 
Passion-stricken, her heart a tumultuous image of ocean. 

Also upon that couch, flush'd youthfully, breathless lacchus 
Roam'd with a Satyr-band, with Nisa-begot Sileni ; 
Seeking thee, Ariadna, aflame thy beauty to ravish, 
Wildly behind they rushed and wildly before to the folly, 
Euhoe rav'd, Euhoe with fanatic heads gyrated; 
Some in womanish hands shook rods cone-wreathed above 

Some from a mangled steer toss'd flesh yet gorily stream- 

incr • 
Some girt round them in orbs, snakes gordian, intertwin- 
Some with caskets deep did blazon mystical emblems, 

POEMS 121 

Emblems muffled darkly, nor heard of spirit unholy. 
Part with a slender palm taborines beat merrily jangling; 
Now with a cymbal slim would a sharp shrill tinkle awaken; 
Often a trumpeter horn blew murmurous, hoarsely re- 
Rose on pipes barbaric a jarring music of horror. 

Such, wrought rarely, the shapes this quilt did richly ap- 
Where to the couch close-clasped it hung thick veils of 

So to the full heart-sated of all their curious eying, 
Thessaly's youth gave place to the Gods high-throned in 

As, when dawn is awake, light Zephyrus even-breathing 
Brushes a sleeping sea, which slant-wise curved in edges 
Breaks, while mounts Aurora the sun's high journey to 

welcome ; 
They, first smitten faintly by his most airy caressing, 
Move slow on, light surges a plashing silvery laughter; 
Soon with a waxing wind they crowd them apace, thick- 
Swim in a rose-red glow and far off sparkle in Ocean ; 
So thro' column'd porch and chambers sumptuous hieing. 
Thither or hither away, that company, stream'd, home- 

First from Pelion height, when they were duly departed, 
Chiron came, in his hand green gifts of flowery forest, 
All that on earth's leas blooms, what blossoms Thessaly 

Breeds on mountainous heights, what near each showery 

Swells to the warm west-wind, in gales of foison alight- 

ing; ^ 
These did his own hands bear in girlonds twined of all 

That to the perfume sweet for joy laugh'd gaily the palace. 
Follow'd straight Penios, awhile his bowery Tempe, 


Tempe, shrined around in shadowy woods o'erhanging, 
Left to the bare-hmb'd maids Magnesian, airily ranging. 
No scant carrier he ; tall root-torn beeches his heavy 
Burden, bays stemm'd stately, in heights exalted ascending. 
Thereto the nodding plane, and that lithe sister of youthful 
Phaethon flame-enwrapt, and cypress in air upspringing: 
These in breadths inwoven he heap'd close-twin'd to the 

Whereto tlie porch wox green, with soft leaves canopied 


Him did follow anear, deep heart and wily, Prometheus, 
Scarr'd and w^earing yet dim traces of early dishonour, 
All which of old his body to flint fast-welded in iron, 
Bore and dearly abied, on slippery crags suspended. 
Last with his awful spouse, with children goodly, the 

Father approach'd; thou, Phoebus, alone, his warder in 

Left, with that dear sister, on Idrus ranger eternal. 
Peleus sister alike and brother in high misprison 
Held, nor lifted a torch when Thetis wedded at even. 
So when on ivory thrones they rested, snowily gleaming, 
Many a feast high-pil'd did load each table about them; 
Whiles to a tremor of age their gray infirmity rocking, 
Busy began that chant which speaketh surely the Parcae. 

Round them a folding robe their weak limbs aguish hiding, 

Fell bright-white to the feet, with a purple border of issue. 

Wreaths sat on each hoar crown, whose snows flush'd rosy 
beneath them; 

Still each hand fulfilled its pious labour eternal. 

Singly the left upbore in wool soft-hooded a distaff. 

Whereto the right large threads down drawing deftly, with 

Fingers shap'd them anew ; then thumbs earth-pointed in 

Balance twisted a spindle on orb'd wheels smoothly ro- 

POEMS 123 

So clear'd softly between and tooth-nipt even it ever 
Onward moved; still clung on wan lips, sodden as ashes, 
Shreds all woolly from out that soft smooth surface arisen. 
Lastly before their feet lay fells, white, fleecy, refulgent, 
Warily guarded they in baskets woven of osier. 
They, as on each light tuft their voice smote louder ap- 
Pour'd grave inspiration, a prophet chant to the future, 
Chant which an after-time shall tax of vanity never. 

O IN valorous acts thy wondrous glory renewing. 
Rich Aemathia's arm, great sire of a goodlier issue, 
Hark on a joyous day what prophet-story the sisters 
Open surely to thee; and you, what followeth after. 

Guide to a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

Soon shall approach, and bear the delight long-wish'd for of 
Hesper, a bride shall approach in starlight happy presented, 
Softly to sway thy soul in love's completion abiding, 
Soon in a trance with thee of slumber dreamy to mingle, 
Making smooth round arms thy clasp'd throat sinewy pil- 
Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

Never hath house closed yet o'er loves so blissful uniting, 
Never love so well his children in harmony knitten. 
So as Thetis agrees, as Peleus bendeth according. 

Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

You shall a son see born that knows not terror, Achilles, 
One whose back no foe, whose front each knoweth in onset ; 
Often a conqueror, he, where feet course swiftly together, 
Steps of a fire-fleet doe shall leave in his hurry behind him. 

Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

Him to resist in war, no champion hero ariseth, 

Then on Phrygian earth when carnage Trojan is utter'd ; 


Then when a long sad strife shall Troy's crown'd city be- 
Waste her a third false heir from Pelops wary descending. 
Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

His unmatchable acts, his deeds of glorious honour, 
Oft shall mothers speak o'er sons untimely departed; 
While from crowns earth-bow'd fall loosen'd silvery tresses, 
Beat on shrivell'd breasts weak palms their dusky defac- 

Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

As some labourer ears close-cluster'd lustily lopping, 
Under a flaming sun, mows fields ripe-yellow in harvest, 
So, in fury of heart, shall death's stern reaper, Achilles, 
Charge Troy's children afield and fell them grimly with 

Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

Deeds of such high glory Scamander's river avoucheth, 
Hurried in eddies afar thro' boisterous Hellespontus ; 
Then when a slaughter'd heap his pathway watery choking, 
Brimmeth a warm red tide and blood with water allieth. 

Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

Voucher of him last riseth a prey untimely devoted 

E'en to the tomb, which mounded in heaps, high, spherical, 

Grants to the snow-white limbs, to the stricken maiden a 
Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

Scarcely the war-worn Greeks shall win such favour of 
Neptune's bonds of stone from Dardan city to loosen, 
Dankly that high-heav'd grave shall gory Polyxena crim- 
She as a lamb falls smitten a twin-edg'd falchion under. 

POEMS 125 

Boweth on earth weak knees, her hmbs down flingeth un- 
Trail )'e a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

Up then, fair paramours, in fond love happily mingle. 

Now in blessed treaty the bridegroom welcome a goddess; 

Now give a bride long-veil'd to her husband's passionate 
Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 

Her when duly the nurse with day-light early revisits, 

Necklace of yester-night — she shall not clasp it about her. 
Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny 

Nor shall a mother fond, o'er brawls unlovely dishearten'd, 
Lay her alone, or cease the delight of children awaiting. 
Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny 

In such prelude old, such good-night ditty to Peleus, 
Sang their deep divination, ineffably, holy, the Parcae, 
Such as in ages past, upon houses godly descending, 
Houses of heroes came, in mortal company present, 
Gods high-throned in heaven, while yet was worship in 

Often a sovran Jove, in his own bright temple appearing, 
Yearly, whene'er his day did rites ceremonial usher, 
Gazed on an hundred slain, on strong bulls heavily falling. 
Often on high Parnassus a roving Liber in hurried 
Frenzy the Thyiads drave, their locks blown loosely, before 

While all Delphi's city in eager jealousy trooping, 
Blithely receiv'd their god on fuming festival altars. 
Mavors often amidst encounter mortal of armies. 
Streaming Triton's queen, or maid Ramnusian awful, 
Stood in body before them, a fainting host to deliver. 


Only when heinous sin earth's wholesome purity blasted, 
When from covetous hearts fled justice sadly retreating, 
Then did a brother his hands dye deep in blood of a brother, 
Lightly the son forgat his parents' piteous ashes. 
Lightly the son's young grave his father pray'd for, an 

Maiden, a step-dame fair in freer luxury clasping. 
Then did mother unholy to son that knew not abase her, 
Shamefully, fear'd not unholy the blessed dead to dishon- 
Human, inhuman alike, in wayward infamy blending, 
Turned far from us away that righteous counsel of heaven. 
Therefore proudly the Gods such sinful company view not, 
Bear not day-light clear upon immortality breathing. 


Though, outworn with sorrow, with hours of torturous an- 
Ortalus, I no more tarry the Muses among; 
Though from a fancy deprest fair blooms of poesy budding 
Rise not at all ; such grief rocks me, uneasily stirr'd : 

Coldly but even now mine own dear brother in ebbing 
Lethe his ice-wan feet laveth, a shadowy ghost. 
He whom Troy's deep bosom, a shore Rhoetean above 
Rudely denies these eyes, heavily crushes in earth. 

Ah ! no more to address thee, or hear thy kindly replying, 
Brother! O e'en than life round me delightfuller yet. 
Ne'er to behold thee again! Still love shall fail not alone 
Fancy to muse death's dark elegy, closely to weep. 
Closely as under boughs of dimmest shadow the pensive 
Daulian ever moans Itys in agony slain. 

Yet mid such desolation a verse I tender of ancient 
Battiades, new-drest, Ortalus, wholly for you. 

POEMS 127 

Lest to the roving winds these words all idly deliver'd, 
Seem too soon from a frail memory fallen away. 

E'en as a furtive gift, sent, some love-apple, a-wooing, 
Leaps from breast of a coy maiden, a canopy pure; 
There forgotten alas, mid vestments silky reposing, — • 
Soon as a mother's step starts her, it hurleth adown : 
Straight to the ground, dash'd forth ungently, the gift 
shoots headlong; 
She in tell-tale cheeks glows a disorderly shame. 


He whose glance scann'd clearly the lights uncounted of ether, 

Found when arises a star, sinks in his haven again. 
How yon eclipsed sun glares luminous obscuration. 

How in seasons due vanishes orb upon orb ; 
How 'neath Latmian heights fair Trivia stealthily banish'd 

Falls, from her upward path lured by a lover awhile; 
That same sage, that Conon, lock of great Berenice 

Saw me, in heavenly-bright deification afar 
Lustrous, a gleaming glory; to gods full many devoted, 

Whiles she her arms in prayer lifted, as ivory smooth; 
In that glorious hour when, flush'd with a new hymeneal. 

Hotly the King to deface outer Assyria sped. 
Bearing ensigns sweet of that soft struggle a night brings, 

When from a virgin's arms spoils he had happily won. 

Stands it an edict true that brides hate Venus? or ever 

Falsely the parents' joy dashes a showery tear, 
When to the nuptial door they come in rainy beteeming? 

Now to the Gods I swear, tears be hypocrisy then. 
So mine own queen taught me in all her weary lamentings, 

Whiles her bridegroom bold set to the battle a face. 
What? for an husband lost thou weptst not gloomily lying? 

Rather a brother dear, forced for a while to depart ? 
This, when love's sharp grief was gnawing inly to waste 

Ah poor wife! whose soul steep'd in unhappiness all, 


Fell from reason away, nor abode thy senses ! A nobler 
Spirit had I erewhile known thee, a fiery child. 

Pass'd that deed forgotten, a royal wooer had earn'd thee ? 

Deed that braver none ventureth ever again ? 
Yet what sorrow to lose thy lord, what murmur of anguish ! 

Jove, how rain'd those tears brush'd from a passionate 
Who is this could wean thee, a God so mighty, to falter? 

May not a lover live from the beloved afar? 
Then for a spouse so goodly, before each spirit of heaven, 

Me thou vowd'st, with slain oxen, a vast hecatomb, 
Home if again he alighted. Awhile and Asia crouching 

Humbly to Egypt's realm added a boundary new; 
I, in starry return to the ranks dedicated of heaven. 

Debt of an ancient vow sum in a bounty to-day. 

Full of sorrow was I, fair queen, thy brows to abandon. 

Full of sorrow; in oath answer, adorable head. 
Evil on him that oath who sweareth falsely soever! 

Yet in a strife with steel who can a victory claim? 
Steel could a mountain abase, no loftier any thro' heaven's 

Cupola Thia's child lifteth his axle above. 
Then, when a new-born sea rose Mede-uplifted; in Athos* 

Centre his ocean-fleet floated a barbarous host. 
What shall a weak tress do, when powers so mighty resist 

Jove! may Chalybes all perish, a people accurst, 
Perish who earth's hid veins first labour'd dimly to quarry, 

Clench'd in a molten mass iron, a ruffian heart ! 

Scarcely the sister-locks were parted dolefully weeping, 

Straight that brother of young Memnon, in Africa born, 
Came, and shook thro' heaven his pennons oary, before me, 

Winged, a queen's proud steed, Locrian Arsinoe. 
So flew with me aloft thro' darkening shadow of heaven. 

There to a god's pure breast laid me, to Venus's arms. 
Him Zephyritis' self had sent to the task, her servant. 

She from realms of Greece borne to Canopus of yore. 

POEMS 129 

There, that at heav'n's high porch, not one sole crown^ 
Golden above those brows Ismaros' youth did adore, 
Starry should hang, set alone ; but luminous I might glisten, 
Vow'd to the Gods, bright spoil won from an aureat 
While to the skies I clomb still ocean-dewy, the Goddess 
Placed me amid star-spheres primal, a glory to be. 

Close to the Virgin bright, to the Lion sulkily gleaming. 

Nigh Callisto, a cold child Lycaonian, I 
Wheel obliquely to set, and guide yon tardy Bootes 

Where scarce late his car dewy descends to the sea. 
Yet tho' nightly the Gods' immortal steps be above me, 

Tho' to the white waves dawn gives me, to Tethys, again ; 
(Maid of Ramnus, a grace I here implore thee, if any 

Word should offend ; so much cannot a terror alarm, 
I should veil aught true ; not tho' with clamorous uproar 

Rend me the stars; I speak verities hidden at heart) : 
Lightly for all I reck, so more I sorrow to part me 

Sadly from her I serve, part me forever away. 
With her, a virgin as yet, I quaff 'd no sumptuous essence; 

With her, a bride, I drain'd many a prodigal oil. 

Nov/, O you whom gladly the marriage cresset uniteth. 

See to the bridegroom fond yield ye not amorous arms, 
Throw not back your robes, nor bare your bosom assent- 
Save from an onyx stream sweetness, a bounty to me. 
Yours, in a loyal bed which seek love's privilege, only; 

Yieldeth her any to bear loathed adultery's yoke. 
Vile her gifts, and lightly the dust shall drink them un- 
Not of vile I seek gifts, nor of infamous, L 
Rather, O unstain'd brides, may concord tarry for ever 

With ye at home, may love with ye for ever abide. 

Thou, fair queen, to the stars if looking haply, to Venus 

Lights thou kindle on eves festal of high sacrifice, 


Leave me the lock, thine own, nor blood nor bounty re- 

Rather a largesse fair pay to me, envy me not. 
Stars dash blindly in one ! so might I glitter a royal 

Tress, let Orion glow next to Aquarius' urn. 



O TO the goodman fair, O welcome alike to the father. 

Hail, and Jove's kind grace shower his help upon you! 
Door, that of old, men say, wrought Balbus ready obeisance, 

Once, when his home, time was, lodged him, a master in 
years ; 
Door, that again, men say, grudg'd aught but a spiteful obeis- 

Soon as a corpse outstretch'd starkly declar'd you a bride. 
Come, speak truly to me; what shameful rumour avouches 

Duty of years forsworn, honour in injury lost? 


So be the tenant new, Caecilius, happy to own me, 

I'm not guilty, for all jealousy says it is L 
Never a fault was mine, nor man shall whisper it ever; 

Only, my friend, your mob's noisy " The door is a rogue." 
Comes to the light some mischief, a deed uncivil arising, 

Loudly to me shout all, " Door, you are wholly to blame." 


'Tis not enough so merely to say, so think to decide it. 
Better, who wills should feel, see it, who wills, to be true. 


How then? if here none asks, nor labours any to know it. 


Nay, / ask it ; away scruple ; your hearer is L 

POEMS 131 


First, what rumour avers, they gave her to us a virgin — 

They He on her. A Hght lady! be sure, not alone 
Clipp'd her an husband first; weak stalk from a garden, a 

Falchion, a heart did ne'er fully to courage awake. 
No ; to the son's own bed. 'tis said, that father ascended. 

Vilely; with act impure stain'd the facinorous house. 
Whether a blind fierce lust in his heart burnt sinfully flaming. 

Or that inert that son's vigour, amort to delight, 
Needed a sturdier arm, that franker quality somewhere, 

Looser of youth's fast-bound girdle, a virgin as yet. 


Truly a noble father, a glorious act of affection! 

Thus in a son's kind sheets lewdly to puddle, his own. 


Yet not alone of this, her crag Chinaean abiding 

Under, a watch-tower set warily, Brixia tells, 
Brixia, trails whereby his w^aters Mella the golden. 

Mother of her, mine own city, Verona the fair. 
Add Postumius yet, Cornelius also, a twice-told 

Folly, with whom our light mistress adultery knew. 
Asks some questioner here " What? a door, yet privy to lewd- 

You, from your owner's gate never a minute away? 
Strange to the talk o' the town ? since here, stout timber above 

Hung to the beam, you shut mutely or open again." 
Many a shameful time I heard her stealthy profession, 

While to the maids her guilt softly she hinted alone. 
Spoke unabash'd her amours and named them singly, opin- 

Haply an ear to record fail'd me, a voice to reveal. 


There was another; enough; his name I gladly dissemble; 

Lest his lifted brows blush a disorderly rage. 
Sir, 'twas a long lean suitor ; a process huge had assail'd him ; 

'Twas for a pregnant womb falsely declar'd to be true. 


If, when fortune's wrong with bitter misery whelms thee, 
Thou thy sad tear-scrawl'd letter, a mark to the storm, 
Send'st, and bid'st me to succour a stranded seaman of 
Toss'd in foam, from death's door to return thee again; 
Whom nor softly to rest love's tender sanctity suffers, 

Lost on a couch of lone slumber, unhappily lain; 
Nor with melody sweet of poets hoary the Muses 

Cheer, while worn with grief nightly the soul is awake : 
Well-contented am I, that thou thy friendship avowest, 
Ask'st the delights of love from me, the pleasure of 
hymns ; 
Yet lest all unnoted a kindred story bely thee. 

Deeming, Mallius, I calls of humanity shun; 
Hear what a grief is mine, what storm of destiny whelms 
Cease to demand of a soul's misery joy's sacrifice. 

Once, what time white robes of manhood first did array me, 
Whiles in jollity life sported a spring holiday. 
Youth ran riot enow; right well she knows me, the God- 
She whose honey delights blend with a bitter annoy. 
Henceforth dies sweet pleasure, in anguish lost of a 
Funeral. O poor soul, brother, O heavily ta'en. 
You all happier hours, you, dying brother, effaced ; 
All our house lies low mournfully buried in you; 
Quench'd untimely with you joy waits not ever a morrow, 
Joy which alive your love's bounty fed hour upon hour; 

POEMS 133 

Now, since thou liest dead, heart-banish'd wholly desert 
Vanities all, each gay freak of a riotous heart. 

How then obey? You write 'Let not Verona, Catullus, 

Stay thee, if here each proud quality, Rome's eminence. 
Freely the light limbs warms thou leavest coldly to lan- 
Infamy lies not there, Mallius, only regret. 
So forgive me, if I, whom grief so rudely bereaveth. 

Deal not a joy myself know not, a beggar in all. 
Books — if they're but scanty, a store full meagre, around 
Rome is alone my life's centre, a mansion of home, 
Rome my abode, house, hearth; there wanes and waxes a 
life's span ; 
Hither of all those choice cases attends me but one. 
Therefore deem not thou aught spiteful bids me deny thee ; 

Say not 'his heart is false, haply, to jealousy leans,' 
If nor books I send nor flatter sorrow to silence. 

Trust me, were either mine, either unask'd should ap- 

Goddesses, hide I may not in how great trial upheld me 
Allius, how no faint charities held me to life. 

Nor shall time borne fleetly nor years' oblivion ever 
Make such zeal to the night fade, to the darkness, away. 

As from me you learn it, of you shall many a thousand 
Learn it again. Grow old, scroll, to declare it anew. 

So to the dead increase honour in year upon year. 
Nor to the spider, aloft her silk-slight flimsiness hanging, 
Allius aye unswept moulder, a memory dim. 

Well you wot, how sore the deceit Amathusia wrought me. 
Well what a thing in love's treachery made me to fall • 

XI— 10 


Ready to burst in flame, as burn Trinacrian embers, 

Burn near Thermopylae's Oeta the fiery springs. 
Sad, these piteous eyes did waste all wearily weeping, 

Sad, these cheeks did rain ceaseless a showery woe. 
Wakeful, as hill-born brook, which, afar off silvery gleam- 
ing, _ 

O'er his moss-grown crags leaps with a tumble a-down ; 
Brook which awhile headlong o'er steep and valley de- 

Crosses anon wide ways populous, hastes to the street ; 
Cheerer in heats o' the sun to the wanderer heavily fuming, 

Under a drought, when fields swelter agape to the sky. 

Then as tossing shipmen amid black surges of Ocean, 

See some prosperous air gently to calm them arise, 
Safe thro' Pollux' aid or Castor, alike entreated; 

Mallius e'en such help brought me, a warder of harm. 
He in a closed field gave scope of liberal entry; 

Gave me an house of love, gave me the lady within, 
Busily there to renew love's even duty together ; 

Thither afoot mine own mistress, a deity bright, 
Came, and planted firm her sole most sunny ; beneath her 

Lightly the polish'd floor creak'd to the sandal again. 

So with passion aflame came wistful Laodamia 

Into her husband's home, Protesilaus, of yore ; 
Home o'er-lightly begun, ere slaughter'd victim atoning 

Waited of heaven's high-thron'd company grace to agree. 
Nought be to me so dear, O Maid Ramnusian, ever, 

I should against that law match me with opposite I. 
Bloodless of high sacrifice, how thirsts each desolate altar! 

This, when her husband fell, Laodamia did heed, 
Rapt from a bridegroom new, from his arms forced early 
to part her. 

Early ; for hardly the first winter, another again. 
Yet in many a night's long dream had sated her yearning. 

So that love might wear cheerily, the master away ; 
Which not long should abide, so presag'd surely the Parcae, 

If to the wars her lord hurry, for Ilion arm. 

POEMS 135 

Now to revenge fair Helen, had Argos' chiefs, her puissance, 

Set them afield ; for Troy rous'd them, a cry not of home, 
Troy, dark death universal, of Asia grave and Europe, 
Altar of heroes Troy, Troy of heroical acts. 
Now to my own dear brother abhorred worker of ancient 

Death. Ah woeful soul, brother, unhappily lost. 
Ah fair light unblest, in darkness sadly receding. 

All our house lies low, brother, inearthed in you, 
Quench'd untimely with you, joy waits not ever a morrow, 

Joy which alive your love's bounty fed hour upon hour. 
Now on a distant shore, no kind mortality near him, 

Far all household love, every familiar urn, 
Tomb'd in Troy the malign, in Troy the unholy reposing. 

Strangely the land's last verge holds him, a dungeon of 

Thither in haste all Greece, one armed people assembling, 
Flock'd on an ancient day, left the recesses of home. 
Lest in a safe content, unreach'd, his stolen adultress 
Paris inarm, in soft luxury quietly lain. 

E'en such chance, fair queen, such misery, Laodamia, 

Brought thee a loss as life precious, as heavenly breath. 
Loss of a bridegroom dear; such whirling passion in eddies 

Suck'd thee adown, so drew sheer to a sudden abyss. 
Deep as Graian abyss near Pheneos o'er Cyllene, 

Strainer of ooze impure milk'd from a watery fen ; 
Hewn, so stories avouch, in a mountain's kernel; an hero 

Hew'd it, falsely declar'd Amphytrionian, he, 
When those monster birds near grim Stymphalus his arrow 

Smote to the death ; such task bade him a dastardly lord. 
So that another God might tread that portal of heaven 

Freely, nor Hebe fair wither a chaste eremite. 
Yet than abyss more deep thy love, thy depth of emotion ; 

Love which school'd thy lord, made of a master a thrall. 

Not to a grandsire old so priz'd, so lovely the grandson 
One dear daughter alone rears i' the soft of his years ; 
He, long-wish'd for, an heir of wealth ancestral arriving, — 


Scarcely the tablets' marge holds him, a name to the will, 

Straight all hopes laugh'd down, each baffled kinsman 

Leaves to repose white hairs, stretches, a vulture away; 
Not in her own fond mate so turtle snowy delighteth, 

Tho' unabash'd, 'tis said, she the voluptuous hours 
Snatches a thousand kisses, in amorous extasy biting. 

Yet, more lightly than all ranges a womanly will. 
Great their love, their frenzy; but all their frenzy before 

Fail'd, once clasp'd thy lord splendid in aureat hair. 

Worthy in all or part thee, Laodamia, to rival. 

Sought me my own sweet love, journey'd awhile to my 
Round her playing oft ran Cupid thither or hither. 
Lustrous, array'd in bright broidery, saffron of hue. 
What, to Catullus alone if a wayward fancy resort not? 

Must I pale for a stray frailty, the shame of an hour? 
Nay; lest all too much such jealous folly provoke her. 

Juno's self, a supreme glory celestial, oft 
Crushes her eager rage, in wedlock-injury flaring. 

Knowing yet right well Jove, what a losel is he. 

Yet, for a man with Gods shall never lawfully match him 
[Eighteen lines are here missing] 

Lift thy father, a weak burden, upholpen, abhorr'd. 
Not that a father's hand my love led to me, nor odours 

Wafted her home on rich airs, of Assyria born; 
Stealthy the gifts she gave me, a night unspeakable o'er us, 

Gifts from her husband's dreams verily stolen, his own. 
Then 'tis enough for me, if mine, mine only remaineth 

That one day, whose stone shines with an happier hue. 

So, it is all I can, take, Allius, answer, a little 

Verse to requite thy much friendship, a contrary boon. 

POEMS 137 

So your household names no rust nor seamy defacing 

Soil this day, that new morrow, the next to the last. 
Gifts full many to these heaven send as largely requiting, 

Gifts Themis ever wont deal to the pious of yore. 
Joys come plenty to thee, to thy own fair lady together, 

Come to that house of mirth, come to the lady within ; 
Joy to the forward friend, our love's first fashioner, Anser, 

Author of all this fair history, founder of all. 
Lastly beyond them, above them, on her more lovely than 

Life, my lady, for whose life it is happy to be. 


RuFUS, it is no wonder if yet no woman assenting 
Softly to thine embrace tender a delicate arm. 
Not tho' a gift should seek, some robe most filmy, to move 
Not for a cherish'd gem's clarity, lucid of hue. 

Deep in a valley, thy arms, such evil story maligns thee, 
Rufus, a villain goat houses, a grim denizen. 
All are afraid of it, all; what wonder? a rascally creature, 
Verily! not with such company dally the fair. 

Slay, nor pity the brute, our nostril's rueful aversion. 
Else admire not if each ravisher angrily fly. 


Saith my lady to me, no man shall wed me, but only 
Thou; no other if e'en Jove should approach me to woo; 

Yea; but a woman's words, when a lover fondly desireth. 
Limn them on ebbing floods, write on a wintery gale. 


Lesbia, thou didst swear thou knewest only Catullus, 

Cared' St not, if him thine arms chained, a Jove to retain. 
Then not alone I loved thee, as each light lover a mistress, 
Lov'd as a father his own sons, or an heir to the name. 


Now I know thee aright; so, if more hotly desiring, 

Yet must count thee a soul cheaper, a frailty to scorn. 
* Friend,' thou say'st 'you cannot' Alas! such injury 

Blindly to doat poor love's folly, malignly to will. 


Never again think any to work aught kindly soever, 
Dream that in any abides honour, of injury free. 

Love is a debt in arrear; time's parted service avails not; 
Rather is only the more sorrow, a heavier ill : 

Chiefly to me, whom none so fierce, so deadly deceiving 
Troubleth, as he whose friend only but inly was L 


Gellius heard that his uncle in ire exploded, if any 
Dared, some wanton, a fault practise, a levity speak. 

Not to be slain himself, see Gellius handle his uncle's 
Lady; no Harpocrates muter, his uncle is hush'd. 

So what he aim'd at, arriv'd at, anon let Gellius e'en this 
Uncle abuse ; not a word yet will his uncle assay. 


Brothers twain has Gallus, of whom one owns a delightful 
Son; his brother a fair lady, delightfuller yet. 

Gallant sure is Gallus, a pair so dainty uniting; 
Lovely the lady, the lad lovely, a company sweet. 

Foolish sure is Gallus, an o'er-incurious husband ; 
Uncle, a wife once taught luxury, stops not at one. 


Lesbius, handsome is he. Why not? if Lesbia loves him 
Far above all your tribe, angry Catullus, or you. 

Only let all your tribe sell off, and follow, Catullus, 
Kiss but his handsome lips children, a plenary three. 

POEMS 139 


What? not in all this city, Juventius, ever a gallant 
Poorly to win love's fresh favour of amorous you, 

Only the lack-love signor, a wretch from sickly Pisaurum, 
Guest of your hearth, no gilt statue as ashy as he? 

Now your very delight, whose faithless fancy Catullus 
Banisheth. Ah light-reck'd lightness, apostasy vile! 


WouLDST thou, Ouintius, have me a debtor ready to owe thee 
Eyes, or if earth have joy goodlier any than eyes? 

One thing take not from me, to me more goodly than even 
Eyes, or if earth have joy goodlier any than eyes. 


Lesbia while her lord stands near, rails ever upon me. 

This to the fond weak fool seemeth a mighty delight. 
Dolt, you see not at all. Could she forget me, to rail not. 

Nought were amiss; if now scold she, or if she revile, 
'Tis not alone to remember; a shrewder stimulus arms her, 

Anger; her heart doth burn verily, thus to revile. 


Stipends Arrius ever on opportunity shtipends, 
Ambush as hambitsh still Arrius used to declaim. 

Then, hoped fondly the words were a marvel of articulation, 
While with an h immense ' Thambush ' arose from his 

So his mother of old, so e'en spoke Liber his uncle, 
Credibly; so grandsire, grandam alike did agree. 

Syria took him away ; all ears had rest for a moment ; 
Lightly the lips those words, slightly could utter again. 


None was afraid any more of a sound so clumsy returning; 

Sudden a solemn fright seized us, a message arrives. 
*News from Ionia country; the sea, since Arrius enter'd, 

Changed; 'twas Ionian once, now 'twas Hionian all' 


Half I hate, half love. How so? one haply requireth. 
Nay, I know not; alas feel it, in agony groan. 


Lovely to many a man is Quintia; shapely, majestic, 
Stately, to me ; each point singly 'tis easy to grant. 

'Lovely' the whole, I grant not; in all that bodily largeness, 
Lives not a grain of salt, breathes not a charm anywhere. 

Lesbia — she is lovely, an even temper of utmost 
Beauty, that every charm stealeth of every fair. 


Ne'er shall woman avouch herself so rightly beloved, 
Friend, as rightly thou art, Lesbia, lovely to me. 

Ne'er was a bond so firm, no troth so faithfully plighted. 
Such as against our love's venture in honour am L 

Now so sadly my heart, dear Lesbia, draws me asunder. 
So in her own misspent worship uneasily lost, 

Wert thou blameless in all, I may not longer approve thee, 
Do anything thou wilt, cannot an enemy be. 


If to a man bring joy past service dearly remember'd, 

When to the soul her thought speaks, to be blameless of 
Faith not rudely profan'd, nor in oath or charter abused 
Heaven, a God's mis-sworn sanctity, deadly to men. 
Then doth a life-long pleasure await thee surely, Catullus, 
Pleasure of all this love's traitorous injury born. 

POEMS 141 

Whatso a man may speak, whom charity leads to another, 
Whatso enact, by me spoken or acted is all. 
Waste on a traitorous heart, nor finding kindly requital. 
Therefore cease, nor still bleed agoniz'd any more. 

Make thee as iron a soul, thyself draw back from affliction. 

Yea, tho' a God say nay, be not unhappy for aye. 
What ? it is hard long love so lightly to leave in a moment ? 

Hard ; yet abides this one duty, to do it : obey. 
Here lies safety alone, one victory must not fail thee. 

One last stake to be lost haply, perhaps to be won. 

O great Gods immortal, if you can pity or ever 

Lighted above dark death's shadow, a help for the lost; 

Ah! look, a wretch, on me; if white and blameless in all I 
Liv'd, then take this long canker of anguish away. 

If to my inmost veins, like dull death drowsily creeping, 
Every delight, all heart's pleasure it wholly benumbs. 

Not anymore I pray for a love so faulty returning. 

Not that a wanton abide chastely, she may not again. 
Only for health I ask, a disease so deadly to banish. 
Gods vouchsafe it, as I ask, that am harmless of ill. 


RuFUS, a friend so vainly believ'd, so wrongly relied in, 

(Vainly? alas the reward fail'd not, a heavier ill;) 
Could'st thou thus steal on me, a lurking viper, an aching 

Fire to the bones, nor leave aught to delight any more? 
Nought to delight any more! ah cruel poison of equal 

Lives ! ah breasts that grew each to the other awhile ! 
Yet far most this grieves me, to think thy slaver abhorred 

Foully my own love's lips soileth, a purity rare. 
Thou shalt surely atone thine injury : centuries harken. 

Know thee afar ; grow old, fame, to declare him anew. 



Gellius, how if a man in lust with a mother, a sister 
Rioteth, one uncheck'd night, to iniquity bare? 
How if a man's dark passion an aunt's own chastity spare 
Canst thou tell what vast infamy lieth on him? 

Infamy lieth on him, no farthest Tethys, or ancient 
Ocean, of hundred streams father, abolish eth yet. 
Infamy none o'ersteps, nor ventures any beyond it. 
Not tho' a scorpion heat melt him, his own paramour. 


Gellius — ^he's full meagre. It is no wonder, a friendly 
Mother, a sister is his loveable, healthy withal. 

Then so friendly an uncle, a world of pretty relations. 
Must not a man so blest meagre abide to the last? 

Yea, let his hand touch only what hands touch only to tres- 
Reason enough to become meagre, enough to remain, 


Rise from a mother's shame with Gellius hatefully wedded, 
One to be taught gross rites Persic, a Magian he. 

Weds with a mother a son, so needs should a Magian issue, 
Save in her evil creed Persia determineth ill. 

Then shall a son, so born, chant down high favour of heaven. 
Melting lapt in flame fatly the slippery caul. 


Think not a hope so false rose, Gellius, in me to find thee 
Faithful in all this love's anguish ineffable yet. 
For that in heart I knew thee, had in thee honour imagin'd. 
Held thee a soul to abhor vileness or any reproach. 

POEMS 143 

Only in her, I knew, thou found'st not a mother, a sister, 
Her that awhile for love wearily made me to pine. 
Yea tho' mutual use did bind us straitly together, 

Scarcely methought could lie cause to desert me therein. 

Thou found'st reason enow; so joys thy spirit in every 
Shame, wherever is aught heinous, of infamy born. 


Lesbia doth but rail, rail ever upon me, nor endeth 
Ever. A life I stake, Lesbia loves me at heart. 

Ask me a sign? Our scorn runs parallel. I that abuse her 
Ever, a life to the stake, Lesbia, love thee at heart. 


Lightly methinks I reck if Caesar smile not upon me: 
Care not, whether a white, whether a swarth-skin, is he. 


Mentula — wanton is he ; his calling sure is a wanton's. 
Herbs to the pot, 'tis said wisely, the name to the man. 


Nine times winter had end, nine times flush'd summer in 
Ere to the world gave forth Cinna, the labour of years, 
Zmyrna ; but in one month Hortensius hundred on hundred 
Verses, an unripe birth feeble, of hurry begot. 

Zmyrna to far Satrachus, to the stream of Cyprus, ascendeth ; 
Zmyrna with eyes unborn study the centuries hoar. 
Padus her oWn ill child shall bury, Volusius' annals; 
In them a mackerel oft house him, a wrapper of ease. 

Dear to my heart be a friend's unbulky memorial ever; 
Cherish an Antimachus, weighty as empty, the mob. 



If to the silent dead aught sweet or tender ariseth, 
Calvus, of our dim grief's common humanity born; 

.When to a love long cold some pensive pity recalls us, 

When for a friend long lost wakes some unhappy regret; 

Not so deeply, be sure, Quintilia's early departing 
Grieves her, as in thy love dureth a plenary joy. 


Asks some booby rebuke, some prolix prattler a judgment? 

Vettius, all were said verily truer of you. 
Tongue so noisome as yours, come chance, might surely on 

Bend to the mire, or lick dirt from a beggarly shoe. 
Would you on all of us, all, bring, Vettius, utterly ruin ? 

Speak ; not a doubt, 'twill come utterly, ruin on all. 


Dear one, a kiss I stole, while you did wanton a-playing, 
Sweet ambrosia, love, never as honily sweet. 

Dearly the deed I paid for; an hour's long misery waning 
Ended, as I agoniz'd hung to the point of a cross, 
Hoping vain purgation; alas! no potion of any 

Tears could abate that fair angriness, youthful as you. 

Hardly the sin was in act, your lips did many a falling 
Drop dilute, which anon every finger away 

Cleansed apace, lest still my mouth's infection abiding 

Stain, like slaver abhorr'd breath'd from a foul frica- 

Add, that a booty to love in misery me to deliver 
You did spare not, a fell worker of all agonies. 

So that, again transmuted, a kiss ambrosia seeming 

Sugary, turn'd to the strange harshness of harsh helle- 

POEMS 145 

Then such dolorous end since your poor lover awaiteth, 
Never a kiss will I venture, a theft any more. 

QuiNTius, AuFiLENA ; to Caelius, Aufilenus ; 

Lovers each, fair flower either of youths Veronese. 
One to the brother bends, and one to the sister. A noble 

Friendship, if e'er was true friendship, a rare brother- 

Ask me to which I lean? You, Caelius: yours a devotion 
Single, a faith of tried quality, steady to me ; 

Into my inmost veins when love sank fiercely to burn them. 
Mighty be your bright love, Caelius, happy be you! 


Borne o'er many a land, o'er many a level of ocean. 
Here to the grave I come, brother, of holy repose. 
Sadly the last poor gifts, death's simple duty, to bring thee; 
Unto the silent dust vainly to murmur a cry. 

Since thy form deep-shrouded an evil destiny taketh 

From me, O hapless ghost, brother, O heavenly ta'en, 
Yet this bounty the while, these gifts ancestral of usance 
Homely, the sad slight store piety grants to the tomb; 
Drench'd in a brother's tears, and weeping freshly, receive 
them ; 
Yea, take, brother, a long Ave, a timeless adieu. 


If to a friend sincere, Cornelius, e'er was a secret 

Trusted, a friend whose soul steady to honour abides; 

Me to the same brotherhood doubt not to be inly devoted, 
Sworn upon oath, to the last secret, an Harpocrates. 



Briefly, the sesterces all, give back, full quantity. Silo, 

Then be a bully beyond exorability, you : 
Else, if money be all, O cease so lewdly to practise 

Bawd, yet bully beyond exorability, you. 


What? should a lover adore, yet cruelly slander adoring? 

I my lady, than eyes goodlier easily she? 
Nay, I rail not at all. How rail, so blindly desiring? 

Tappo alone dare brave all that is heinous, or you. 


Mentula toils, Pimplea, the Muses' mountain, ascending: 
They with pitchforks hurl Mentula dizzily down. 


Walks with a salesman a beauty, your eyes that beauty dis- 
Doubt not your eyes speak true ; Sir, 'tis a beauty to sell. 


If to delight man's wish, joy e'er unlook'd for, unhop'd for, 

Falleth, a joy were such proper, a bliss to the soul. 
Then 'tis a joy to the soul, like gold of Lydia precious, 

Lesbia mine, that thou com'st to delight me again. 
Com'st yet again long-hop'd, long-look'd for vainly, returnest 

Freely to me. O day white with a luckier hue! 
Lives there happier any than I, I only? a fairer 

Destiny? Life so sweet know ye, or aught parallel? 


Loathly Cominius, if e'er this people's voice should arraign 

POEMS 1^7 

Hoary with all unclean infamy, worthy to die; 
First should a tongue, I doubt not, of old so deadly to good- 
Fall extruded, of each vulture a hungry regale ; 
Gouged be the carrion eyes some crow's black maw to re- 
Stomach a dog's fierce teeth harry, a wolf the remains. 


Think you truly, belov'd, this bond of duty between us, 
Lasteth, an ever-new jollity, ne'er to decease? 

Grant it, Gods immortal, assure her promise in earnest; 
Yea, be the lips sincere ; yea, be the words from her heart. 

So still rightly remain our lovers' charter, a life-long 

Friendship in us, whose faith fades not away to the last. 


AuFiLENA, the fair, if kind, is a favourite ever; 

Asks she a price, then yields frankly? the price is her 
You, that agreed to be kind, now vilely the treaty dishonour, 

Give not at all, nor again take ; — 'tis a wrong to a wrong. 

Not to deceive were noble, a chastity ne'er had assented, 
Aufilena; but you — blindly to grasp at a gain. 

Yet to withhold the effects, — 'tis a greed more loathly than 
Vileness, a wretch whose limbs ply to the lusts of a town. 


One lord only to love, one, Aufilena, to live for, 
Praise can a bride nowhere goodlier any betide ; 

Yet, when a niece with an uncle is even mother or even 
Cousin — of all paramours this were as heinous as all. 


Naso, if you show much, your company shows but a very 
Little; a man you show, Naso, a woman in one. 



PoMPEY the first time consul, as yet Maecilia counted 
Two paramours; reappears Pompey a consul again, 

Two still, Cinna, remain ; but grown, each unit an even 
Thousand. Truly the stock's fruitful : adultery breeds. 


Rightly a lordly demesne makes Firman Mentula count for 
Wealthy ! the rich fine things, then the variety there ! 

Game in plenty to choose, fish, field, and meadow with hunt- 
ing ; 
Only the waste exceeds strangely the quantity still. 

Wealthy? perhaps I grant it; if all, wealth asks for, is absent. 
Praise the demesne? no doubt; only be needy the man. 


Acres thirty in all, good grass, own Mentula master ; 

Forty to plough ; bare seas, arid or empty, the rest. 
Poorly methinks might Croesus a man so sumptuous equal. 

Counted in one rich park owner of all he can ask. 
Grass or plough, big woods, much mountain, mighty 
morasses ; 
On to the farthest North, on to the boundary main. 

Vastness is all that is here ; yet Mentula reaches a vaster — 
Man? not so; 'tis a vast mountainous ominous He. 


Oft with a studious heart, which hunted closely, requiring 
Skill great Battiades' poesies haply to send. 

Laying thus thy rage in rest, lest everlasting 

Darts should reach me, to wound still an assailable head : 

Barren now I see that labour of any requital, 

Gellius ; here all prayers fall to the ground, nor avail. 

No ; but a robe I carry, the barbs, thy folly, to muffle ; 
Mine strike sure; thy deep injury they shall atone. 








XI— 11 



Albius Tibullus, the prince of elegiac poets, was born at 
Rome, B.C. 64, being descended from an equestrian branch of 
the Albian family. The ancient writers of Tibiillus's life have 
favoured us with no particulars of his infancy, or his early 
education. However, as his father's condition was consider- 
able, we can only suppose that nothing was omitted to render 
our poet a useful and elegant member of society. 

In the year of Rome 705, the civil war broke out between 
Caesar and Pompey. The army and corrupt part of the legis- 
lature followed Csesar; while the majority of the senate and 
of the knights, with all those who dreaded a perpetual dictator, 
sided with Pompey; as the person from whom the republic 
had less danger to apprehend. Of this number was the father 
of Tibullus : and there is reason to suspect, that he either fell 
in the field, or was butchered by proscription; for we know 
that a considerable part of his estate was left a prey to the 
rapacious soldiery. These events probably determined our 
author's public attachments; but without these motive to re- 
venge, it is not unlikely that Tibullus had, before this time, 
adopted the political opinions of his father. 

At what actions in the civil war our young knight was pres- 
ent, as it was not prudent in him to mention in his poems, so 
historians do not inform us; but as principle and revenge 
equally conspired to rouse his courage (and courage he cer- 
tainly possessed^), may we not safely infer, that Tibullus did 
not run away, like his friend Horace, from Philippi ; at which 
battle he was present with his patron the illustrious Messala 

But the fortune of Octavius prevailing over the better 
cause of Brutus and Cassius, Messala too (who was next in 

1 Tibull. lib. I. El. 8. 



command to these patriot citizens) going over with his forces 
to the conqueror, Tibullus, although he paid the greatest re- 
gard to the sentiments of that excellent soldier and orator, 
yet determined to leave the army: for as he would not fight 
against the party which his friends had now espoused, so 
neither could he appear in arms against those whom his 
principle taught him to regard as the assertors of liberty. 
Besides, the bad success of the patriot party, and his own expe- 
rience, had now inspired him with an abhorrence of the war: 
he therefore retired, a. u. c, 712, to his country seat at 
Pedum, there, by an honest industry, to raise his impaired for- 
tune to its ancient splendor, while his hours of leisure were 
either devoted to philosophy or the muses. 

But we are not to imagine that rural objects and study 
solely engaged our poet's attention; for being formed with a 
natural tenderness of disposition, he began to enlarge the 
sphere of his pleasures by conversing with the fair sex. The 
first object of his affection was probably Glycera ; and we have 
Horace ^ on our side, when we add, that she at first gave him 
hopes of success: but though his person was elegant,^ his 
fortune not contemptible, and his life was then in the prime, 
Glycera deserted him for a younger lover.^ As he entertained 
a real affection for that lady, her infidelity gave him much 
uneasiness: he therefore endeavoured, by exerting his elegiac 
genius, to reclaim her. But his poems producing in Glycera 
no change to his advantage, his friend and old fellow-soldier, 
Horace, advised him to abate of his sorrow for her loss, arid 
send her no more elegies. 

None of these elegies having come down to our time, 
Lilio Gyraldi supposes that Nemesis and Glycera were the 
same : — but the poems which are inscribed to Nemesjs * do 
not favour this disposition ; and, indeed, it seems more likely 
that Tibullus was so piqued at the ill success of his first amour, 
that he destroyed all those elegies which it gave rise to. 

^ Lib. I. Ode 33. 

2 Horat. lib. I. Ep. 4. 

3 Horat, lib. i. Ode 33. 
* Lib. II. 


Some time after this (a. u. c. 718) the fierce inhabitants 
of Pannonia rebelHng and Messala being one of the generals 
appointed by Augustus to reduce them, that nobleman invited 
Tibullus to attend him in the expedition. As this service was 
not against the Pompeian party (to whom an amnesty was 
granted by the triumvirate, a. u. c. 715), and as he hoped 
in the hurry of a military life to find a remedy for his melan- 
choly, he complied with his noble friend's request, and in every 
action behaved with his usual bravery. 

In this manner did our poet subdue his passion for Glycera : 
but being by nature addicted to the love of the fair sex, at 
his return from the army he fixed his affections on Delia, 
which Apuleius tells us was an appellation given her by our 
poet, her real name being Plania. 

It would seem, that some time after his attachment to 
Delia, Messala invited our poet to accompany him in some 
military expedition ; but he was then too deeply enamoured of 
Delia to attend the call of honour. Tibullus, therefore, com- 
posed his first elegy; in which, as he prefers a country retire- 
ment with Delia, and a moderate income, to all the triumphs 
of war and allurements of fortune, so Corvinus could not well 
urge, with propriety, our poet's departure. 

Messala having soon after obtained the consulship, Tibul- 
lus composed his panegyric. This poem is in heroic numbers, 
and though not destitute of poetical beauties, is inferior to 
his elegies: it seems rather an effusion of friendship than an 
effort of genius: it has, therefore, not been translated. 

In the year of Rome 725, Messala being intrusted by 
Augustus C?esar with an extraordinary command over Syria, 
insisted on Tibullus's accompanying him thither, to which our 
poet consented. This sacrifice to friendship was not, however, 
obtained without much reluctance. Tibullus, however, had 
not been long at sea, before he was taken so ill, that Messala 
was obliged to put him ashore, and leave him in Phceacia. In 
this island, so famous for the gardens of Alcinous, our poet 
composed the third elegy of the first book ; which shows, that 
whatever effect this sickness had upon his constitution, it did 
not in the least impair his poetical talents. 

From the sentiments of tenderness expressed in that beauti- 


ful poem, it would not have been surprising, had Tibullus on 
his recovery returned to Italy : but he had too sincere a regard 
for his friend to desert him. He therefore, as soon as he was 
able to renew his voyage, hastened after Messala, and with 
that nobleman travelled through Cilicia, Syria, Egypt, and 
Greece ; being then probably initiated into the Eleusinian mys- 
teries at Athens. 

What were the political consequences of this expedition, 
historians do not mention : but the consequences to Tibullus 
were highly disagreeable; for, if any stress in this point is to 
be laid on his elegies, there is reason to suspect that Delia 
married before his return. 

This, doubtless, occasioned much uneasiness to, and ren- 
dered our poet the less unwilling to embrace another offer 
made him soon after by Messala, of going to Aquitaine ; which 
province having revolted (a. u. c. 726) Augustus had in- 
trusted that excellent officer with the important business of 
its reduction. 

The Romans, says an elegant writer, fought with other 
nations for glory, but with the Gauls for liberty. This obser- 
vation was at least verified at this time: for it was not till 
after many sharp actions, in which both the general and his 
soldiers distinguished themselves, that Messala completed the 
service he was sent upon. In all these battles our poet sig- 
nalized his courage in so remarkable a manner, that the suc- 
cess of the expedition was, in no small degree, owing to him.^ 
For which reason, he had military honour conferred on him. 

The reduction of Aquitaine was so acceptable to the Em- 
peror, that Messala had a triumph decreed him the year after:, 
and as our poet had borne so distinguished a share in the war, 
it is not to be supposed but he was present at that superb 
solemnity; which, as an ancient inscription acquaints us, was 
celebrated on the seventh of the calends of October. 

But his Gallic expedition not having banished Delia from 
his breast, he again paid his addresses to her : and, from some 
passages in the second and seventh elegies of the first book, it 
would seem that they were but too successful. 

1 Vh. I. El. 8. 


When a woman has once so far forgot herself, as to bestow 
improper favours on a lover, nothing is more natural than for 
that lover to suspect he is not the only favourite. Our poet 
is an instance of the truth of this observation ; for to such a 
height did his ungenerous suspicions of Delia arise (notwith- 
standing all her protestations of innocence), that he made her 
husband acquainted with his intrigue/ Whether Delia was 
innocent or not, she could never forgive this discovery ; or had 
she been willing to forget the past, w^e cannot suppose that 
her husband would ever admit Tibullus again into his house. 

Such, then, was the extraordinary conclusion of our poet's 
intimacy with Delia; and therefore the poem which furnished 
these particulars is justly made the last of the poems inscribed 
to that beauty. 

Although the elegies of Tibullus warrant, in some sort, 
these surmises, yet it ought to be considered, that poets write 
from imagination more frequently than from reality, because 
ideal subjects afford greater scope to their faculties, than 
occurrences in common life: — and indeed, if what Ovid tells 
us may be depended on, Delia was again enamoured with our 
poet at the time of his decease, when probably her husband was 

Some time elapsed, before Tibullus entered into any new 
engagements. In this interval, he composed his famous elegy 
on Messala's Birthday, the ninth and the following elegies of 
the first book, with the first and second of the second book; 
endeavouring to forget his disasters, by dividing his time 
between his country-seat and Rome ; but chiefly by conversing, 
more than ever, with the learned and polite : of these the most 
eminent among his acquaintances were Messala, Valgius, 
Macer, and Horace. 

Messala was now in the height of his reputation: in elo- 
quence and military knowledge, he w^as excelled by none of 
his contemporaries; and yet the goodness of his heart sur- 
passed his abilities. His house was the rendezvous of the 
learned; and his patronage, as an admirable poet [Dr. Young] 
expresses it, was 

1 Lib. I. El. 7. 


The surest passport to the gates of fame. 

Happy in the approbation of all parties, Messala's siding 
with Augustus, after the defeat at Philippi, did not lose him 
the esteem of his old friends; and his interesting himself in 
their behalf, to the honour of that emperor, made him not the 
less beloved by Augustus, 

J. Valgius Rufus was eminent, not only for heroic poetry, 
but also for his elegies, especially those on the death of his 
son Mystes. He also wrote some excellent epigrams. But 
all his poems are now lost. As Tibullus thought him the best 
poet next to Homer, posterity has suffered much in their loss. 

Of Macer, all that is known is mentioned in the notes to 
the sixth Elegy of the second book. 

But although Tibullus himself informs us of his acquaint- 
ance with these eminent scholars; yet should we not have 
known of the friendship which Horace and he entertained for 
one another, had it not been for Horace, who probably about 
this time sent our poet an epistle. [Lib. i. Ep. 4.] 

When such were the friends of Tibullus, and his poetical 
abilities had long since obtained him universal applause, he 
could have found no difficulty in getting admission to the 
learned court of Augustus. "How then (ask the commenta- 
tors) has it come to pass, that he never once mentions either 
that emperor or Maecenas, both whom his brother poets cele- 
brated with such a lavishness of praise? And yet (add they) 
there are many parts of his writings where those patrons of 
genius might have been introduced with uncommon pro- 

True to the principles of the republic, and a real friend to 
the liberties of the people, Tibullus never could prevail upon 
himself to flatter those, whatever affection they expressed for 
the muses, whom his principles taught him to detest as the 
enslavers of his country. 

This, as Pope emphatically expresses it, "kept him sacred 
from the great," who, doubtless, perceived with secret dis- 
pleasure (for Augustus and Maecenas well knew the impor- 
tance of having the poets on their side) that no loss of for- 
tune, and no allurement of ambition, could induce Tibullus 


to join in the general chorus of their praise. Although both 
the emperor and his favourite must in their hearts have ap- 
plauded our poet's integrity; yet that mental applause, in all 
probability, would not have secured Tibullus from the effects 
of their displeasure, had it not been for the interest which he 
had with Messala. 

Soon after this, Tibullus fell in love with Nesera. It is 
true, that the Elegies he wrote to Neaera, in every edition of 
our poet, follow those in which he celebrates Nemesis : yet, as 
Ovid (who could not well be mistaken in what related to 
one whom he regarded so much as Tibullus) says that Nem- 
esis was his last mistress, and as it is probable that the fifth 
Elegy of the second book (our poet being then certainly very 
fond of Nemesis) was written between the years 732 and 
734, when Augustus wintered in Samos, (that is, a short 
time before our poet's death) we suppose that Nesera was 
the third object of his affections. 

Fabricius conjectures, from her name, that she was a 
woman of the town; Nesera, in the declension of the Roman 
empire, being a synonimous term for a courtezan : but Fabri- 
cius should have considered that Tibullus wrote in the Au- 
gustan age. Besides, it appears from Homer,^ from a Vale- 
rius Flaccus, and from an old marble statue preserved by Pig- 
norius, that women of the first rank, and most unsuspected 
modesty, were called by that name. Without, however, these 
authorities, Tibullus himself screens this favourite from the 
imputation of libertinism, by bestowing on her the epithet 
casta.^ He also characterizes her parents as people of virtue 
and fortune. 

It appears from the second and third Elegy of the third 
book, that Nesera, after a long courtship, having consented to 
marry Tibullus, was somehow or other forced away from 
him. This gave our poet an uncommon concern; which was 
redoubled, when he discovered, that she herself had not only 
been accessory to her being carried off, but meant also to 
marry his rival. 

^ Odyss. lib. xii. ver. 133. 
2 Lib. III. El. 4. 


Tibullus, who had hitherto been unsuccessful in his ad- 
dresses to the fair, was not more fortunate in his last mis- 
tress; for, if Nemesis (for so was she called) possessed beau- 
ties of mind and person equal to those of Delia and Nesera, 
her extreme avarice obscured them all. And though Martial 
founds Tibulhis's chief claim to poetical reputation on the 
Elegies he addressed to that lady, we have our poet's authority 
for asserting, that they produced no effect upon her. 

Whether Nemesis ever abated of her rigour to Tibullus, 
his elegies do not inform us. It is indeed probable she did, 
especially since Ovid represents her as sincerely grieved at 
Tibullus's death ; which, according to Marsus, a contempo- 
rary poet, happened soon after that of Virgil: 

Thee ! young Tibullus, to the' Elysian plain 
Death bid accompany great Maro's shade; 

Determin'd that no poet should remain, 
Or to sing wars, or weep the cruel maid. 

For Tibullus died either a. u. c. 735, the year of Virgil's 
death, or the year after, in the forty-fourth or forty-fifth 
year of his age. 

Nor was Marsus the only poet who celebrated this mel- 
ancholy event. Ovid, who had no less friendship than ad- 
miration for Tibullus, has immortalized both himself and his 
friend in the following beautiful elegy; which, containing 
some further particulars relating to our poet, will make a 
proper conclusion to this life, which, from the scantiness as 
well as the little authority of many of the materials, the au- 
thor is sorry he cannot render more complete. 

By Ovid 

If Thetis, if the blushing queen of morn, 
If mighty goddesses could taste of woe 

For mortal sons ; come, Elegy forlorn ! 

Come, weeping dame! and bid thy tresses flow 


Thou bear'st, soft mistress of the tearful eye, 
From grief thy name; now name, alas, too just! 

For see thy favourite bard, thy glory, lie 

Stretch'd on yon funeral pile; ah! Hfeless dust! 

See Venus' son, his torch extinguish'd brings. 
His quiver all revers'd, and broke his bow ; 

See pensive how he droops his flagging wings, 
And strikes his bared bosom many a blow : 

Loose and neglected, scatter'd o'er his neck. 
His golden locks drink many a falling tear: 

What piteous sobs, as if his heart would break. 
Shake his swoln cheek? Ah, sorrow too severe! 

Thus, fair lulus! for thy godlike sire, 

'Tis said, he weeping from thy roof withdrew: 
Nor deeper mourn'd the queen of soft desire, 
When the grim boar her lov'd Adonis slew. 

And yet, we bards are fondly call'd divine. 
Are sacred held, the gods' peculiar care: 

There are that deem us of the ethereal line, 
That something of the deity we share. 

But what can death's abhorred stroke withstand ! 

Say, what so sacred he will not profane? 
On all the monster lays his dusky hand, 
And poets are immortal deem'd in vain? 

Thee, Orpheus, what avail'd thy heavenly sire? 

Thy mother-muse, and beast-enchanging song? 
The god for Linus swept his mournful lyre, 

And with a father's woes the forests rung. 

Great Homer see, from whose eternal spring 
Pierian draughts the poet-train derive; 

Not he could 'scape the fell remorseless king,^ 
His lays alone the greedy flames survive. 



Still live the work of ages, Ilion's fame, 
And the slow web by nightly craft unwove: 

So Nemesis shall live, and Delia's name; 
This his first passion, that his recent love. 

Now what avails, ye fair! each holy rite, 
Each painful service for your lover paid? 

Recluse and lonely that you pass'd the night? 
Or sought the' Egyptian cymbal's fruitless aid? 

When partial fate thus tears the good away, 
(Forgive, ye just! th' involuntary thought) 

I'm led to doubt of Jove's eternal sway, 

And fear that gods and heaven are words of nought. 

Live pious, you must die : religion prize, 

Death to the tomb will drag you from the fane: 

Confide in verse; lo! where Tibullus lies! 
His all the little urn will now contain! 

Thee, sacred bard ! could then funereal fires 

Snatch from us? on thy bosom durst they feed? 

Not fanes were safe, not Jove's refulgent spires,^ 
From flames that ventur'd on this impious deed. 

The beauteous queen that reigns in Eryx' towers, 
From the sad sight averts her mournful face ; 

There are, that tell of soft and pearly showers 
Which down her lovely cheeks their courses trace. 

Yet better thus, than on Phseacia's strand, 

Unknown, unpitied, and unseen to die: 
His closing eyes here felt a mother's hand, 

Her tender hands each honour'd rite supply. 

His parting shade here found a sister's care, 
Who sad attends, with tresses loose and torn: 

The fair he lov'd his dying kisses share. 
Nor quit the pyre afflicted and forlorn. 

^ The Capitol. 


"Farewell, dear youth! (thus Delia parting cried) 
How bless'd the time, when I inspir'd the lay? 

You liv'd, were happy; every care defied. 
While I possess'd your heart, untaught to stray." 

To whom thus Nemesis, in scornful mood, 

'* Mine was the loss, then why art thou distress'd? 

Me, only me, with parting life he view'd ; 
My hand alone with dying ardor press'd." ^ 

And yet, if ought beyond this mouldering clay 
But empty name and shadowy form rem.ain. 

Thou liv'st, dear youth ! for ever 5^oung and gay ; 
For ever bless'd, shalt range the' Elysian plain. 

And thou, Catullus ! learned, gallant mind, 

(Fast by thy side thy Calvus will attend) 
With ivy wreaths thy youthful temples twin'd, 

Shalt spring to hail the' arrival of thy friend. 
" Oh, may I view thee with life's parting ray, 

And thy dear hand with dying ardor press ! " 

And Callus, too profuse of life and blood, 

If no sad breach of friendship's law deprive, 
This band immortal of the bless'd and good. 

Thy shade shall join, if shades at all survive. 

Thou polish'd bard! thy loss though here we mourn, 
Hast swell'd the sacred number of the bless'd ; 

Safe rest thy gentle bones within their urn! 
Nor heavy press the earth upon thy breast! 

1 Alluding ironically to the following passage in the first Elegy, 
which Tibullus there applies to Delia. 




The glittering ore let others vainly heap, 

O'er fertile vales extend the enclosing mound ; 

With dread of neighbouring foes forsake their sleep, 
And start aghast at every trumpet's sound. 

Me humbler scenes delight, and calmer days; 

A tranquil life fair poverty secure! 
Then boast, my heart, a small but cheerful blaze, 

And riches grasp who will, let me be poor. 

Nor yet be, Hope, a stranger to my door, 

But o'er my roof, bright goddess, still preside! 

With many a bounteous autumn heap my floor, 
And swell my vats wiith must, a purple tide. 

My tender vines I'll plant with early care, 

And choicest apples, with a skilful hand; 
Nor blush, a rustic, oft to guide the share, 

Or goad the tardy ox along the land. 

Let me a simple swain, with honest pride. 

If chance a lambkin from its dam should roam, 

Or sportful kid, the little wanderer chide. 
And in my bosom bear exulting home. 

Here Pales ^ I bedew with milky show'rs, 

Lustrations yearly for my shepherd pay, 
Revere each antique stone bedeck'd with flow'rs. 

That bound the field, or points the doubtful way." 

^ Goddess of shepherds. Her festival [Palilla] was celebrated on 
the eleventh or twelfth calends of May, the day that Rome was 

2 The Romans revered boundary and guide stones. 



My grateful fruits, the earliest of the year, 
Before the rural god ^ shall duly wait ; 
From Ceres' gifts I'll cull each browner ear, 
And hang a wheaten wreath before her gate. 

The ruddy god^ shall save my fruit from stealth. 
And far away each little plunderer scare : 

And you, the guardians once of ampler wealth, 

My household gods,^ shall still my offerings share. 

My numerous herds, that wanton'd o'er the mead, 
The choicest fatling then could richly yield; 

Now scarce I spare a little lamb to bleed, 
A mighty victim for my scanty field : 

And yet a lamb shall bleed, while rang'd around, 
The village youths shall stand in order meet; 

With rustic hymns, ye gods, your praise resound. 
And future crops and future wines entreat. 

Then come, ye powers, nor scorn my frugal board. 
Nor yet the gifts clean earthen bowls convey; 

With these the first of men the gods ador'd. 
And form'd their simple shape of ductile clay. 

My little flock, ye wolves, ye robbers, spare; 

Too mean a plunder to deserve your toil; 
For wealthier herds the nightly theft prepare. 

There seek a nobler prey and richer spoil. 

For treasur'd wealth, nor stores of golden wheat, 
The hoard of frugal sires, I vainly call; 

A little farm be mine, a cottage neat. 

And wonted couch where balmy sleep may fall. 

^ Vertumnus. 

^ Priapus, statues of whom were set up in gardens to warn ma- 
rauders away. 
^ The Lares. 


What joy to hear the tempest howl in vain, 
Aind clasp a fearful mistress to my breast : 

Or lull'd to slumber by the beating rain, 
Secure and happy, sink at last to rest. 

These joys be mine ! — O grant me only these, 
And give to others bags of shining gold. 

Whose steely hearts can brave the boisterous seas, 
The storm wide-wasting, or the stiffening cold. 

Content with little, I would rather stay 

Than spend long months amid the watery waste ; 

In cooling shades elude the scorching ray, 

Beside some fountain's gliding w^aters plac'd. 

O perish rather all that's rich and rare, 
The diamond quarry, and the golden vein, 

Than that my absence cost one precious tear, 
Or give some gentle maid a moment's pain. 

With glittering spoils, Messala,^ gild thy dome. 
Be thine the noble task to lead the brave; 

A lovely foe me captive holds at home, 

Chain'd to her scornful gate, a watchful slave. 

Inglorious post ! and yet I heed not fame : 

The' applause of crowds for Delia I'd resign: 

To live with thee I'd bear the coward's name, 
Nor 'midst the scorn of nations once repine. 

With thee to live, I'd mock the ploughman's toil. 
Or on some lonely mountain tend my sheep; 

At night I'd lay me on the flinty soil. 

And happy 'midst thy dear embraces sleep. 

What drooping lover heeds the Tyrian bed, 

While the long night is pass'd with many a sigh : 

Nor softest down with richest carpets spread, 
Nor whispering rills can close the weeping eye. 

iThe "Maecenas" of TibuUus. See Introduction. 


Of threefold iron were his rugged frame, 

Who when he might thy yielding heart obtain, 

Could yet attend the calls of empty fame, 
Or follow arms in quest of sordid gain. 

Unenvied let him drive the vanquish'd host. 

Through captive lands his conquering armies lead ; 

Unenvied wear the robe with gold emboss'd, 
And guide with solemn state his foaming steed. 

Oh may I view thee with life's parting ray, 
And thy dear hand with dying ardor press : 

Sure thou wilt weep — and on thy lover's clay, 
With breaking heart, print many a tender kiss : 

Sure thou wilt weep — and woes unutter'd feel. 
When on the pile thou seest thy lover laid ! 

For well I know, nor flint, nor ruthless steel, 
Can arm the breast of such a gentle maid. 

From the sad pomp, what youth, what pitying fair. 
Returning slow, can tender tears refrain? 

O Delia, spare thy cheeks, thy tresses spare. 
Nor give my lingering shade a world of pain. 

But now, while smiling hours the fates bestow. 
Let love, dear maid, our gentle hearts unite! 

Soon death will come and strike the fatal blow, 
Unseen his head, and veil'd in shades of night. 

Soon creeping age will bow the lover's frame. 
And tear the myrtle-chaplet from his brow : 

With hoary locks ill suits the youthful flame, 
The soft persuasion, or the ardent vow. 

Now the fair queen of gay desire is ours, 
And lends our follies an indulgent smile: 

'Tis lavish youth's to' enjoy the frolic hours, 
The wanton revel and the midnight broil. 

XI— 12 


Your chief, my friends, and fellow-soldier, I 
To these light wars will lead you boldly on: 

For hence, ye trumpets sound, and banners fly, 
To those who covet wounds, and fame begone : 

And bear them fame and wounds, and riches bear ; 

There are that fame and wounds and riches prize 
For me, while I possess one plenteous year, 

I'll wealth and meagre want alike despise. 


With wine, more wine, my recent pains deceive, 
Till creeping slumber send a soft reprieve : 
Asleep, take heed no whisper stirs the air, 
For wak'd, my boy, I wake to heartfelt care. 
Now is my Delia watch'd by ruthless spies. 
And the gate, bolted, all access denies. 
Relentless gate ; may storms of wind and rain, 
With mingled violence avenge my pain! 
May forky thunders, hurl'd by Jove's red hand, 
Burst every bolt, and shatter every band! 
Ah, no ! rage turns my brain ; the curse recal ; 
On me, devoted, let the thunder fall I 
Then recollect my many wreaths of yore. 
How oft you've seen me weep, insensate door! 
No longer then our interview delay, 
And, as you open, let no noise betray. 

In vain I plead: dare then my Delia rise! 
Love aids the dauntless, and will blind your spies! 
Those who the godhead's soft behests obey, 
Steal from the pillows unobserv'd away; 
On tiptoe traverse unobserv'd the floor ; 
The key turn noiseless, and unfold the door: 
In vain the jealous each precaution take, 
Their speaking fingers assignations make. 
Nor will the god impart to all his aid ; 
Love hates the fearful, hates the lazy maid; 
But through sly windings, and unpractis'd ways, 


His bold night-errants to their wish conveys : 
For those whom he with expectation fires, 
No ambush frightens, and no labour tires; 
Sacred the dangers of the dark they dare, 
No robbers stop them, and no bravos scare. 
Though wintry tempests howl, by love secure. 
The howling tempest I with ease endure : 
No watching hurts me, if my Delia smile, 
Soft turn the gate, and beckon me the while. 

She's mine. Be blind, ye ramblers of the night, 
Lest angry Venus snatch your guilty sight: 
The goddess bids her votaries' joys to be 
From every casual interruption free : 
With prying steps alarm us not, retire ; 
Nor glare your torches, nor our names inquire : 
Or if ye know, deny, by Heaven above, 
Nor dare divulge the privacies of love. 
From blood and seas vindictive Venus sprung, 
And sure destruction waits the blabbing tongue ! 
Nay, should they prate, you, Delia, need not fear ; 
Your lord (a sorceress swore) should give no ear! 
By potent spells she cleaves the sacred ground, 
And shuddering spectres wildly roam around! 
I've seen her tear the planets from the sky; 
Seen lightning backward at her bidding fly. 
She calls! from blazing pyres the corse descends. 
And, re-enliven'd, clasps his wondering friends! 
The fiends she gathers with a magic yell, 
Then, with aspersions, frights them back to hell! 
She wills, — glad summer gilds the frozen pole! 
She wills, — in summer wintry tempests roll ! 
She knows ('tis true) Medea's awful spell! 
She knows to vanquish the fierce guards of hell ! 
To me she gave a charm for lovers meet, 
("Spit thrice, my fair, and thrice the charm repeat.") 
Us, in soft dalliance should your lord surprise; 
By this impos'd on, he'd renounce his eyes ! 
But bless no rival, or the' affair is known ; 
This incantation me befriends alone. 


Nor stopp'd she here; but swore, if I'd agree, 
By charms or herbs to set thy lover free. 
With dire histrations she began the rite ! 
(Serenely shone the planet of the night) 
The magic gods she call'd with hellish sound, 
A sable sacrifice distain'd the ground — 
I stopp'd the spell : I must not, cannot part ; 
I begg'd her aid to gain a mutual heart. 


While you, Messala, plough the' ^gean sea, 
O sometimes kindly deign to think of me: 
Me, hapless me, Phaeacian shores detain, 
Unknown, unpitied, and oppress'd with pain. 
Yet spare me, Death ! ah, spare me and retire : 
No weeping mother's here to light my pyre; 
Here is no sister, with a sister's woe, 
Rich Syrian odours on the pile to throw : 
But chief, my soul's soft partner is not here, 
Her locks to loose, and sorrow o'er my bier. 

What though fair Delia my return implor'd, 
Each fane frequented, and each god ador'd : 
What though they bade me every peril brave ; 
And fortune thrice auspicious omens gave: 
All could not dry my tender Delia's tears, 
Suppress her sighs, or calm her anxious fears; 
E'en as I strove to minister relief, 
Unconscious tears proclaim'd my heartfelt grief: 
Urg'd still to go, a thousand shifts I made, 
Birds now, now festivals my voyage staid : 
Or, if I struck my foot against the door. 
Straight I return'd, and wisdom was no more. 
Forbid by Cupid, let no swain depart, 
Cupid is vengeful, and will wTing his heart. 

What do your offerings now, my fair, avail? 
Your Isis heeds not, and your cymbals fail ! 
What, though array'd in sacred robes you stood, 
Fled man's embrace and sought the purest flood? 


While this I write, I sensibly decay, 
"Assist me, Isis, drive my pains away: 
That you can every mortal ill remove. 
The numerous tablets in your temple prove : 
So shall my Delia, veil'd in votive white. 
Before your threshold sit for many a night; 
And twice a day her tresses all unbound, 
Amid your votaries fam'd, your praises sound : 
Safe to my household gods may I return, 
And incense monthly on their altars burn." 

How bless'd man liv'd in Saturn's golden days, 
Ere distant climes were join'd by lengthen'd ways, 
Secure the pine upon the mountain grew, 
Nor yet o'er billows in the ocean flew; 
Then every clime a wild abundance bore ; 
And man liv'd happy on his natal shore. 
For then no steed to feel the bit was broke, 
Then had no steer submitted to the yoke; 
No house had gates, (bless'd times!) and, in the grounds 
No scanty landmarks parcell'd out the bounds : 
From every oak redundant honey ran, 
And ewes spontaneous bore their milk to man : 
No death ful arms were forg'd, no war was wag'd, 
No rapine plunder'd, no ambition rag'd. 
How chang'd, alas ! — Now cruel Jove commands ; 
Gold fires the soul, and falchions arm our hands : 
Each day, the main unnumber'd lives destroys; 
And slaughter, daily, o'er her myriads joys. 
Yet spare me, Jove ; I ne'er disown'd thy sway, 
I ne'er was perjur'd ; spare me, Jove, I pray. 

But, if the sisters have pronounc'd my doom, 
Inscrib'd be these upon my humble tomb: 
"Lo! here inurn'd a youthful poet lies, 
Far from his Delia, and his native skies ! 
Far from the lov'd Messala, whom to please 
Tibullus follow'd over land and seas." 

Then Love my ghost (for Love I still obey'd) 
Will grateful usher to the' Elysian shade: 
There joy and ceaseless revelry prevail; 


There soothing music floats on every gale ; 
There painted warblers hop from spray to spray, 
And, wildly pleasing, swell the general lay: 
There every hedge, untaught, with cassia blooms, 
And scents the ambient air with rich perfumes: 
There every mead a various plenty yields, 
There lavish Flora paints the purple fields : 
With ceaseless light a brighter Phoebus glows. 
No sickness tortures, and no ocean flows ; 
But youths associate with the gentle fair, 
And stung with pleasure, to the shade repair : 
With them Love wanders wheresoe'er they stray, 
Provokes to rapture, and inflames the play : 
But chief, the constant few, by death betray'd, 
Reign crown'd with myrtle, monarchs of the shade. 

Not so the wicked ; far they drag their chains, 
By black lakes sever'd from the blissful plains; 
Those should they pass, impassable the gate 
Where Cerberus howls, grim sentinel of fate! 
There snake-hair'd fiends with whips patrole around, 
Rack'd anguish bellows, and the deeds resound : 
There he, who dar'd to tempt the queen of heaven, 
Upon an ever-turning wheel is driven : 
The Danaids there still strive huge casks to fill. 
But strive in vain ; the casks elude their skill : 
There Pelops' sire, to quench his thirsty fires, 
Still tries the flood, and still the flood retires : 
There vultures tear the bow'ls, and drink the gore, 
Of Tityus, stretch'd enormous on the shore. 
Dread Love! as vast as endless be their pain 
Who tempt my fair, or wish a long campaign. 

O let no rival your affections share. 
Long as this bosom beats, my lovely fair! 
Still on you let your prudent nurse attend ; 
She'll guard your honour, she's our common friend. 
Her tales of love your sorrowings will allay, 
And, in my absence, make my Delia gay : 
Let her o'er all your virgin train preside. 
She'll praise the' industrious, and the lazy chide. 


But see! on all enfeebling languors creep; 

Their distaffs drop, they yawn, they nod, they sleep. 

Then, if the destinies propitious prove. 

Then will I rush, all passion, on my love : 

My wish'd return no messenger shall tell, 

I'll seem, my fair, as if from heaven I fell. 

A soft confusion flushes all your charms. 

Your graceful deshabille my bosom warms, 

You, Delia, fly and clasp me in your arms. 

For this surprise, ye powers of love, I pray; 
Post on, Aurora, bring the rosy day. 



So round, my god, may shady coverings bend, 
No sunbeams scorch thy face, no snows offend! 
Whence are the fair so proud to win thy heart. 
Yet rude thy beard, and guiltless thou of art? 
Naked thou stand'st, expos'd to wintry snows ! 
Naked thou stand'st when burning Sirius glows? 
Thus I — and thus the garden-power replied, 
A crooked sickle glittering by his side. 


Take no repulse — at first, what though they fly ! 

O'ercome at last, reluctance will comply. 

The vine in time ripen'd clusters bears. 

And circling time brings back the rolling spheres : 

In time soft rains through marble sap their way. 

And time taught man to tame fierce beasts of prey, 

^ Those who understand the original, need not to be told the rea- 
sons which obliged the translator to alter and omit many passages 
of this Elegy, which, with some few others of the same stamp, were 
probably those parts of Tibullus which made the pious Anthony 
Possevin apply to heaven in prayer, to preserve him from tempta- 
tion, whenever he purposed to read our poet. 


Nor, aw'd by conscience, meanly dread to swear ; 

Love-oaths, unratified, wild tempests bear! 

Banish then scruples, if you'd gain a heart; 

Swear, swear by Pallas' locks, Diana's dart ; 

By all that's most rever'd — if they require: 

(Oaths bind not eager love, thank heaven's good sire!) 

Nor be too slow ; your slowness you'll deplore ; 

Time posts ; and, oh ! youth's raptures soon are o'er : 

Now forests bloom, and purple earth looks gay ; 

Bleak winter blows, and all her charms decay : 

How soon the steed to age's stiffness yields. 

So late a victor in the Olympic fields ! 

I've seen the aged oft lament their fate. 

That, senseless, they had learn'd to live too late. 

Ye partial gods, and can the snake renew 

His youthful vigour and his burnish'd hue? 

But youth and beauty pass'd ; is art in vain 

To bring the coy deserters back again? 


Jove gives alone the powers of wit and wine, 
In youth immortal, spite of years to shine, 


Yield prompt compliance to the maid's desires ; 

A prompt compliance fans the lover's fires • 

Go pleas' d where'er she goes, though long the way. 

Though the fierce dog-star dart his sultry ray; 

Though painted Iris gird the bluish sky, 

And sure portends that rattling storms are nigh: 

Or, if the fair-one pant for silvan fame, 

Gay drag the meshes, and provoke the game : 

Nay, should she choose to risk the driving gale ; 

Or steer, or row or agile hand the sail : 

No toil, though weak, though fearful, thou forbear : 

No toils should tire you, and no dangers scare : 

Occasion smiles, then snatch an ardent kiss; 


The coy may struggle, but will grant the bliss : 
The bliss obtain'cl, the fictions struggle pass'd; 
Unbid, they'll clasp you in their arms at last. 


Alas! in such degenerate days as these, 

No more love's gentle wiles the beauteous please ! 

If poor, all gentle stratagems are vain : 

The fair-ones languish now alone for gain. 

Oh may dishonour be the wretch's share, 

.Who first with hateful gold seduc'd the fair! 


Ye charming dames, prefer the tuneful quire, 
Nor meanly barter heavenly charms for hire. 
What cannot song? The purple locks that glow'd 
On Nissus' head, harmonious song bestow'd ! 
What cannot strains? By tuneful strains alone 
Fair ivory, Pelops, on thy shoulder shone! 
While stars wnth nightly radiance gild the pole, 
Earth boasts her oaks, or mighty waters roll. 
The fair whose beauty poets deign to praise, 
Shall bloom uninjur'd in poetic lays : 
While she who hears not when the muses call. 
But flies their favourites, gold's inglorious thrall. 
Shall prove (believe the bard or soon or late,) 
A dread example of avenging fate ! 

Soft flattering songs the Cyprian queen approves; 
And aids the suppliant swain with all her loves. 


The god, no novice in the intriguing trade, 
This answer, Titius,^ to my question made : 
But caution bids you fly the insidious fair. 

^ Titius Septimius, a man no less eminent for his friendship with 
Horace, than for his real poetical abilites. 


And paints the perils of their eyes and air; 
Nor these alone devoted man subdue, 
Devoted man their sHghtest actions woo. 

Be cautious those who Hst — but ye who know 
Desire's hot fever, and contempt's chill woe; 
Me grateful praise — contempt shall pain no more; 
But wish meet wish, instructed by my lore. 
By various means, while others seek for fame. 
Scorn'd love to counsel be my noblest aim. 
Wide stands m.y gate for all — I rapt foresee 
The time when I Love's oracle shall be ! 
When round my seat shall press the' enamour'd throng, 
Attend my motions and applaud my song. 

Alas ! my hopes are fled, my wiles are vain ; 
The fair I doat on treats me with disdain : 
Yet spare me, charmer, your disdain betrays 
To witty laughter my too boastful lays. 


Of late I boasted I could happy be, 

Resume the man, and not my Delia see ! 

And boasts of manhood and of bliss are vain; 

Back to my bondage I return again: 

And like a top am whirl'd, w^hich boys, for sport, 

Lash on the pavement of a level court. 

What can atone, my fair, for crimes like these? 
I'll bear with patience, use me as you please ! 
Yet, by Love's shafts, and by your braided hair. 
By all the joys we stole, your suppliant spare. 
When sickness dimni'd of late your radiant eyes, 
My restless, fond petitions won the skies. 
Thrice I with sulphur purified you round. 
And thrice the rite with songs the' enchantress bound: 
The cake, by me thrice sprinkled, put to flight 
The death-denouncing phantoms of the night: 
And I nine times, in linen garbs array'd. 
In silent night, nine times to Trivia ^ pray'd. 

^ Diana. 


What did I not? Yet what reward have I? 
You love another, your preserver fly ! 
He tastes the sweet effects of all my cares, 
My fond lustrations, and my solemn prayers. 

Are these the joys my madding fancy drew. 
If young-eyed Health restor'd your rosy hue? 
I fondly thought, sweet maid ; oh, though in vain ! 
With you to live a blithesome village-swain. 
When yellow Ceres asks the reaper's hand, 
" Delia (said I) will guard the reaper's band; 
Delia will keep, when hinds unload the vine. 
The choicest grapes for me, the richest wine: 
My flocks she'll count, and oft will sweetly deign 
To clasp some prattler of my menial train : 
With pious care will load each rural shrine, 
For ripen'd crops a golden sheaf assign. 
Gates for my fold, rich clusters for my vine : 
No, no domestic care shall touch my soul ; 
You, Delia, reign despotic o'er the whole! 
And will Messala fly from pomp of state, 
And deign to enter at my lowly gate ? 
The choicest fruitage that my trees afford, 
Delia will cull herself, to deck the board; 
And wondering, such transcendent worth to see, 
The fruit present, thy blushing handmaid she. 

Such were the fond chimeras of my brain, 
W^hich now the winds have wafted o'er the main. 

power of love! whom still my soul obey'd. 
What has my tongue against thy mother said? 
Guiltless of ill, unmark'd with incest's stain, 

1 stole no garland from her holy fane : 

For crimes like these Ed abject crawl the ground. 
Kiss her dread threshold, and my forehead wound. 

But ye who, falsely wise, deride my pains. 
Beware ; your hour approaches — Love has chains. 
Eve known the young, who ridicul'd his rage. 
Love's humblest vassals, when oppress'd with age: 
Each art Eve known them try, to win the fair, 
Smooth their hoarse voice, and dress their scanty hair; 


I've known them, in the street, her maid detain. 
And weeping, beg her to assist their pain. 
At such preposterous love each schoolboy sneers. 
Shuns, as an omen, or pursues with fleers. 

Why do you crush your slave, fair queen of joy? 
Destroying me, your harvest you destroy! 


With wine I strove to soothe my love-sick soul, 
But vengeful Cupid dash'd with tears the bowl : > 
All mad with rage, to kinder nymphs I flew ; 
But vigour fled me, when I thought on you. 
Balk'd of the rapture, from my arms they run. 
Swear I'm devoted, and my converse shun ! 

By what dire witchcraft am I thus betray'd? 
Your face and hair unnerve me, matchless maid ! 
Not more celestial look'd the sea-born fair, 
Receiv'd by Peleus from her pearly chair. 

A rich admirer his addresses paid, 
And brib'd my mistress by a beldam's aid. 
From you my ruin, curs'd procuress, rose; 
What imprecations shall avenge my woes? 
May heaven in pity to my sufferings, shed 
Its keenest mischief on your plotting head! 
The ghosts of those you robb'd of love's delight, 
In horrid visions haunt your irksome night ! 
And, on the chimney, may the boding owl 
Your rest disturb, and terrify your soul! 
By famine stung, to churchyards may you run : 
There feast on offals, hungry wolves would shun! 
Or howling frantic, in a tatter'd gown, 
Fierce mastiffs bate you through each crowded town! 

'Tis done ! a lover's curse the gods approve ; 
But keenest vengeance fires the queen of love. 
Leave then, my fair, the crafty venal jade: 
What passion yields not, when such foes invade? 

Your hearts, ye fair, does modest merit claim? 
Though small his fortunes, feed his gentle flame : 


For, genuine love's soft raptures would you know? 

These raptures merit can alone bestow: 

The sons of opulence are folly's care, 

But want's rough child is sense, and honour's heir. 

In vain we sing — the gate still bolted stands : 
Come, vengeance ! let us burst its sullen bands. 
Learn, happy rival, by my wrongs to know 
Your fate since fortune governs all below. 


Love still invites me with a smiling eye ! 

Beneath his smiles, what pains and anguish lie ? 

Yet since the gods, dread power, must yield to thee : 

What laurels canst thou gain from conquering me? 

Me Delia lov'd ; but by thy subtle wiles. 

The fair, in secret, on another smiles: 

That my suspicion's false, 'tis true, she swears ; 

And backs her imprecations with her tears. 

False fair! your oaths and syren tears refrain; 

Your syren tears and oaths no credit gain; 

For when your lord suspected me of yore, 

As much you wept, as many oaths you swore. 

Yet wherefore blame I Love? the blame is mine; 
I, wretched I, first taught her to design! 
I first instructed her, her spies to foil ! 
Back on myself my wanton arts recoil : 
Herbs of rare energy my skill supplied, 
All marks of too fond gallantry to hide! 
More artful now, alone the wanton lies; 
And new pretexts her cozening brains devise. 

Uncautious lord of a too cunning spouse! 
Admittance grant me, she shall keep her vows ! 
Be warn'd, my friend, observe her when her tongue 
Commends in wanton phrase the gay-dress'd young ; 
Oh! let her not her heaving bosom bare, 
Expos'd to every fop's immodest stare. 
When leaning on the board, with flowing wine; 
She seems to draw some inconsiderate line; 


Take heed, take heed (I know the warning true) 
These random Hnes assign an interview. 
Nor let your wife to fanes so frequent roam, 
A modest wife's best temple is at home; 
But if your prohibitions are all vain. 
Give me the hint, I'll dodge her to the fane: 
What though the goddess snatch my curious sight, 
I'll bring her wanton privacies to light. 

Some gem she wore I'd oft pretend to view, 
But squeez'd her fingers, unperceiv'd of you: ) 
Oft with full racy bowls I seal'd your eyes, 
Water my beverage, and obtain'd the prize. 
Yet since I tell, forgive the pranks I play'd, 
Love prompted all, and Love must be obey'd! 

Nay, 'twas at me (be now the truth avow'd) 
Your watchful mastiff us'd to bark so loud; 
But now some other, with insidious wait, 
Intent observes each creaking of your gate, 
At which, whoever of the house appears. 
Passing, the mien of quick dispatch he wears; 
But comes again, the minute they remove, 
And coughs, — sure signal of impatient love ! 

What boots, though marriage gave a wife so fair. 
If careless you, or she eludes your care? 
While men are artful, and your wife can feign. 
Vain are your brazen-bolts, your mastiffs vain. 

Cold to the raptures of the genial bed, 
She lays the fault upon an aching head : 
'Tis false; the wanton for some other sighs; 
From this her coolness, this, her aches arise. 

Then, then be warn'd, intrust her to my care; 
Whips, chains I laugh at, if you grant my prayer, 
" Hence from my ward, ye sparkish essenc'd beaux ; 
Illegal love oft springs from essenc'd clothes." 
Where'er she walks, not distant I'll attend ; 
And guard your honour from the casual friend! 
" Off, gallants, off : for so the gods ordain ; 
So, the dread priestess in unerring strain ! " 
(When holy fury fires the frantic dame. 


She mocks all torture/ and exults in flame ; 

Her snow-white arms and heaving breast she tears, 

And with the gushing gore Bellona smears; 

Deep in her side she plants the glittering sword; 

And the dread goddess prompts each fateful word.) 

" Ye youths, beware ; nor touch whom Cupid guards ; 

Unpunish'd none attempt his gentle wards : 

As my blood flows, and as these ashes fly, 

Their wealth shall perish, and their manhood die." 

She menac'd then the fair, with dreadful pain; 
E'en were you guilty, may her threats be vain : 
Not on your own account ; your mother's age, 
Your worthy mother, deprecates my rage: 
When love and fortune smil'd, her gentle aid 
Oft me conducted to the blooming maid ; 
My footsteps, wakeful, from afar she knew, 
Unbarr'd the gate, nor fear'd the nightly dew : 
Half of my life's long thread I'd pleas'd resign, 
My sweet conductress, could I lengthen thine ! 
Still, still though much abus'd, I Delia prize; 
She's still thy daughter, and enchants my eyes. 

Yet though no coy cimar invest the fair ; 
Nor vestal fillet bind her auburn hair ; 
Teach her what decent modesty requires ; 
To crown my fire, alone, with equal fires. 
Me too confine; and if, in wanton praise 
Of other maids, my tongue luxuriant strays; 
Let thy suspicion then no limits know. 
Insult me, spurn me, as thy greatest foe: 
But if your jealousies are built in air. 
And patient love your usage cannot bear ; 
What wrath may perpetrate, my soul alarms ; 
For, wrath, I warn you, heeds not female charms. 
Nor yet be chaste, from mean unamorous fear ; 
Be still most modest, when I am not near. 

For those, whom neither wit nor worth secure. 

^ Literally, " She dreads not the twisted lash," the Hagellum with 
which the goddess Bellona used to flog her votaries into madness. 


Grow old, unpitied, palsied, worthless, poor; 

Yet with each servile drudgery they strive 

To keep their being's wretchedness alive ! 

The gay regard their woe with laughing eyes ; 

Swear they deserve it, and absolve the skies : 

Nor Venus less exults — " May such a fate, 

(From heaven she prays) upon the' inconstant wait! " 

The same my wish ! but oh ! may we two prove, 
In age, a pattern of unalter'd love! 


"This day (the Fates foretold in sacred song, 

And singing drew the vital twine along,) 

He comes, nor shall the gods the doom recal, 

He comes, whose sword shall quell the rebel Gaul/ 

With all her laurels, him shall conquest crown, 

And nations shudder at his awful frown; 

Smooth Atur,^ now that flows through peaceful lands, 

Shall fly affrighted at his hostile bands." 

' Tis done! this prophecy Rome joys to see, 

Far-fam'd Messala, now fulfill'd in thee : 

Long triumphs ravish the spectators' eyes. 

And fetter'd chieftains of enormous size; 

An ivory car, with steeds as white as snow. 

Sustains thy grandeur through the pompous show. 

Some little share in those exploits I bore ; 
Witness Tarbella,^ and the Santoigne shore ; * 
Witness the land, where steals the silent Soane ; 
Where rush the Garonne ; and the' impetuous Rhone ; 
Where Loire, enamour'd of Carnutian bounds, 
Leads his blue w-ater through the yellow grounds. 

Or shall his other acts adorn my theme? 

1 Tibullus accompanied Messala upon this expedition, the conquest 
of Aquitain. 

2 A river of Aquitain, now L'Ador. 
^ A town in Gascony, now Tarbe. 

* A maritime province of Aquitain. 


Fair Cydnus, winding with a silver stream ; 

Taurus, that in the clouds his forehead hides, 

And rich Cilicia from the world divides ; 

Taurus, from which unnumber'd rivers spring, 

The savage seat of tempests, shall I sing? 

Why should I tell, how sacred through the skies 

Of Syrian cities, the white pigeon flies? 

Why sing of Tyrian towers, which Neptune laves; 

Whence the first vessel, venturous, stem'd the waves? 

How shall the bard the secret source explore, 

Whence, Father Nile, thou draw'st thy watery store? 

Thy fields ne'er importune for rain the sky ; 

Thou dost benignly all their wants supply : 

As Egypt, Apis mourns in mystic lays, 

She joins thy praises to Osiris' praise. 

Osiris first contriv'd the crooked plough, 
And pull'd ripe apples from the novice bough ; 
He taught the swains the savage mould to wound, 
And scatter'd seed-corn in the' unpractis'd ground : 
He first with poles sustain'd the reptile vine. 
And show'd its infant tendrils how to twine; 
Its wanton shoots instructed man to shear, 
Subdue their wildness, and mature the year ; 
Then too, the ripen'd cluster first was trod; 
Then in gay streams its cordial soul bestow^'d ; 
This as swains quaff' d, spontaneous numbers came, 
They prais'd the festal cask, and hymn'd thy name; 
All ecstasy ! to certain time they bound. 
And beat in measur'd aukwardness the ground. 
Gay bowls serene the wrinkled front of care; 
Gay bowls the toil-oppressed swain repair! 
And let the slave the laughing goblet drain; 
He blythsome sings, though manacles enchain. 

Thee sorrow flies, Osiris, god of wine! 
But songs, enchanting love, and dance are thine: 
But flowers and ivy thy fair head surround. 
And a loose saffron mantle sweeps the ground. 
With purple robes invested, now you glow: 
The shrine is shown, and flutes melodious blow: 

XI— 13 


Come then, my god, but come bedew'd with wine! 
Attend the rites, and in the dance combine; 
The rites and dances are to Genius ^ due.: 
Benign Osiris, stand confess'd to view! 
Rich unguents drop already from his hair. 
His head and neck soft flowery garlands share : 
O come, so shall my grateful incense rise, 
And cates of honey meet thy laughing eyes! 

On thee, Messala, ('tis my fervent prayer) 
May heaven bestow a wise, a warlike heir ; 
In whom, increas'd, paternal worth may shine, 
Whose acts may add a lustre to thy line, 
And transports give thee in thy Hfe's decline! 

But should the gods my fervent prayer deny. 
Thy fame, my glorious friend, shall never die. 
Long as (thy bounteous work) the well-made way^ 
Shall its broad pavement to the sun display, 
The bards of Alba shall, in lofty rhyme. 
Transmit thy glory down the tide of time ! 
They sing from gratitude : nor less the clown 
Whom love or business have detain'd in town 
Till late, as home he safely plods along, 
Thee chants, Messala, in his village-song. 

Bless'd morn, which still my grateful muse shall sing. 
Oft rise, and with you greater blessings bring! 


Iisr vain would lovers hide their infant smart 
From me, a master in the amorous art ; 
I read their passion in their mien and eyes, 
O'erhear their whispers, and explain their sighs. 
This skill no Delphian oracles bestow'd. 
No augurs taught me, and no victims show'd ; 
But love my wrists with magic fillets bound. 

* The guardian of a man from the hour of his birth to his death. 
2 Messala had charge of the construction of a branch of the " Latin 


Lash'd me, and, lashing, mutter'd many a sound. 
No more then, Marathns,^ indifference feign. 
Else vengeful Venus uill enhance your pain! 

What now, sweet youth, avails your anxious care, 
So oft to essence, oft to change your hair? 
What though cosmetic all their aid supply, 
And every artifice of dress you try; 
She's not oblig'd to braids, to gems, to clothes, 
Her charms to nature Pholoe ^ only owes. 

What spells devote you? say, what philters bind? 
What midnight sorceress fascinates your mind? 
Spells can seduce the corn from neighbouring plains, 
The headlong serpent halts at magic strains; 
And did not cymbals stop thy prone career, 
A spell thee, Luna, from thy orb would tear ! ' 

Why do I magic for your passion blame; 
Magic is useless to a perfect frame : 
You squeez'd her hands, your arms around her threw, 
Join'd lip to lip, and hence your passion grew. 
Cease then, fair maid, to give your lover pain ; 
Love hates the haughty, will avenge the swain 
See youth vermilions o'er his modest face ! 
Can riches equal such a boy's embrace ? 
Then ask no bribe — when age affects the gay, 
Your every smile let hoary dotage pay ; 
But you your arms around the stripling throw. 
And scorn the treasure monarchs can bestow. 
But she who gives to age her charms, for pay. 
May her wealth perish, and her bloom decay! 
Then when impatience thrills in every vein. 
May manhood shun her, and the youn^ disdain ! 

Alas I when age has silver'd o'er the head. 

1 One of Tibullus' friends. 

- Mentioned by Horace in his Ode to Tibullus. 

^ When the moon was eclipsed, the ancients imagined that she strug- 
gled with witchcraft; and, therefore, to relieve her, struck upon 
instruments of brass and other sonorous bodies, thinking that sounds 
would accomplish her deliverance. 


And youth, that feeds the lamp of love, is fled. 
In vain the toilette charms ; 'tis vain to try. 
Gray scanty locks with yellow nuts to dye ; 
You strip the tell-tales vainly from their place, 
And vainly strive to mend an aged face. 

Then in thine eyes while youth triumphant glows, 
And with his flowers thy cheeks my fair one sows, 
Incline thine heart to love, and gentle play ; 
Youth, youth has rapid wings, and flies away ! 
The fond old lover, vilify, disdain; 
What praise can crown you from a stripling's pain ? 
Spare then the lovely boy ; his beauties die ; 
By no dire sickness sent him from the sky : 
The gods are just; you, Pholoe, are to blame; 
His sallow colour from your coyness came. 

O wretched youth ! how oft, when absent you, 
Groans rend his breast, and tears his cheeks bedew? 
" Why dost thou rack me with contempt? (he cries) 
The willing ever can elude their spies. 
Had you, O had you felt what now I feel, 
Venus would teach you from your spies to steal. 
I can breathe low, can snatch the melting kiss. 
And noiseless ravish love's enchanting bliss ; 
At midnight can securely grope my way; 
The floor tread noiseless, noisless turn the key. 
Poor, fruitless skill! my skill if she despise; 
And cruel from the bed of rapture flies. 
Or if a promise haply I obtain, 
That she will recompense at night my pain ; 
How am I dup'd? I wakeful listen round. 
And think I hear her in each casual sound. 
Perish the wiles of love, and arts of dress! 
In russet weeds I'll shrowd my wretchedness. 
The wiles of love, and arts of dress are vain. 
My fair to soften, and admittance gain." 

Youth, weep no more ; your eyes are swoln with tears ; 
No more complain ; for, oh ! she stops her ears. 

The gods, I warn you, hate the haughty fair. 


Reject their incense, and deny their prayer. 
This youth, this Alarathus, who wears your chains. 
Late laugh'd at love, and ridicul'd its pains. 
The' impatient lover in the street would stay, 
Nor dreamt that vengeance would his crimes repay. 
Now, now he moans his past misdeeds with tears, 
A prey to love, and all its frantic fears : 
Now he exclaims at female scorn and hate; 
And from his soul abhors a bolted gate. 

Like vengeance waits you ; trust the' unerring muse, 
If still you're coy, and still access refuse : 
Then, how you'll wish, when old, contemn'd of all, 
But vainly wish, these moments to recal! 


Why did you swear by all the powers above. 
Yet never meant to crown my longing love? 
Wretch ! though at first the perjur'd deed you hide, 
Wrath comes with certain, though wnth tardy stride ; 
Yet, yet, offended gods, my charmer spare : 
Yet pardon the first fault of one so fair! 

For gold the careful farmer ploughs the plain, 
And joins his oxen to the cumbrous wain; 
For gold, through seas that stormy winds obey. 
By stars, the sailor steers his watery way : 
Yet, gracious gods, this gold from man remove, 
That wicked metal brib'd the fair I love. 

Soon shall you suffer greatly for your crime, 
A weary wanderer in a foreign clime: 
Your hair shall change, and boasted bloom decay, 
By wintry tempests, and the solar ray. 

"Beware of gold, how oft did I advise? 
From tempting gold what mighty mischiefs rise? 
Love's generous power, I said, with tenfold pain 
The wretch will rack, who sells her charms for gain, 

^ The translator has been obliged to use the same freedom with this 
Elegy as with the fourth. 


Let torture all her cruelties exert; 
Torture is pastime to a venal heart. 

" Nor idly dream your gallantries to hide, 
The gods are ever on the sufferer's side. 
With sleep or wine o'ercome, so fate ordains, 
You'll blab the secret of your impious gains." 

Thus oft I warn'd you; this augments my shame; 
My sighs, tears, homage, henceforth I disclaim. 

" No wealth shall bribe my constancy, you swore. 
Be mine the bard, you sigh'd, I crave no more : 
Not all Campania shall my heart entice. 
For thee Campania's autumns I despise. 
Let Bacchus in Falernian vineyards stray. 
Not Bacchus' vineyards shall my faith betray." 

Such strong professions, in so soft a strain. 
Might well deceive a captivated swain; 
Such strong professions might aversion charm, 
Slow doubt determine, and indifference warm. 
Nay more, you wept, unpractis'd to betray; 
I kiss'd your cheeks, and wip'd the tears away. 

But if I tempting gold unjustly blame. 
And you have left me for another flame; 
May he, like you, seem kind ; like you, deceive ; 
And oh may you, like cheated me, believe! 

Oft I by night the torch myself would bear, 
That none our tender converse might o'erhear ; 
When least expected, oft some youth I led, 
A youth all beauty, to the genial bed; 
And tutor'd him your conquest to complete, 
By soft enticements, and a fond deceit. 

By these I foolish hop'd to gain your love : 
Who than Tibullus could more cautious prove? 
Fir'd with uncommon powers, I swept the lyre. 
And sent you melting strains of soft desire: 
The thought o'erspreads my face with conscious shame, 
Doom, doom them victims to the seas or flame. 
No verse be their's, who love's soft fires profane. 
And sell inestimable joys for gain. 

But you who first the lovely maid decoy'd. 


By each adulterer be your wife enjoy'd. 

And when each youth has rifled all her charms, 

May bed-gowns guard her from your loathed arms ! 

May she, oh may she like your sister prove, 

As fam'd for drinking, far more fam'd for love! 

'Tis true, the bottle is her chief delight, 

She knows no better way to pass the night; 

Your wife more knowing can the night improve, 

To joys of Bacchus joins the joys of love, 

Think'st thou for thee, the toilet is her care? 
For thee, that fillets bind her well-dress'd hair? 
For thee, that Tyrian robes her charms enfold? 
For thee, her arms are deck'd with burnish'd gold ? 
By these, some youth the wanton would entice, 
For him she dresses, and for him she sighs; 
To him she prostitutes, unaw'd by shame. 
Your house, your pocket, and your injur'd fame: 
Nor blame her conduct; say, ye young, what charms 
Can beauty taste in gout and age's arms ? 

Less nice my fair one, she for money can 
Caress a gouty, impotent, old man : 
O thou by generous love, too justly blam'd! 
All, all that love could give, my passion claim'd. 
Yet since thou couldst so mercenary prove. 
The more deserving shall engross my love; 
Then thou wult weep when these ador'd you see : 
Weep on, thy tears will transport give to me. 
To Venus I'll suspend a golden shield, 
With this inscription grav'd upon the field: 

" Tibullus, freed at last from amorous woes, 
This offering, queen of bliss! on thee bestows: 
And humbly begs, that henceforth thou wilt guard 
From such a passion thy devoted bard." 


Who was the first that forg'd the deadly blade? 
Of rugged steel his savage soul was made: 
By him, his bloody flag ambition wav'd; 


And grisly carnage through the battle rav'd. 
Yet wherefore blame him? we're ourselves to blame; 
Arms first were forg'd to kill the savage game: 
Death-dealing battles were unknown of old; 
Death-dealing battles took their rise from gold: 
When beachen bowls on oaken tables stood. 
When temperate acorns were our fathers' food; 
The swain slept peaceful with his flocks around, 
No trench was open'd, and no fortress frown'd. 

Oh ! had I liv'd in gentle days like these, 
To love devoted, and to home-felt ease; 
Compell'd I had not been those arms to wear, 
Nor had the trumpet forc'd me from the fair : 
But now I'm drag'd to war, perhaps my foe 
E'en now prepares the' inevitable blow ! 

Come then, paternal gods, whose help I've known 
From birth to manhood, still protect your own : 
Nor blush, my gods, though carv'd of ancient wood; 
So carv'd in our forefathers' times you stood: 
And though in no proud temples you Vvcre prais'd, 
Nor foreign incense on your altars blaz'd : 
Yet white-rob'd faith conducted every swain; 
Yet meek-ey'd piety seren'd the plain ; 
While clustering grapes, or wheat-wreaths round your hair, 
Appeas'd your anger, and engag'd your care; 
Or dulcet cakes himself the farmer paid, 
When crown'd his wishes by your powerful aid ; 
While his fair daughter brought with her from home 
The luscious offering of a honey-comb : 
If now you'll aid me in the hour of need, 
Your care I'll recompense — a boar shall bleed. 
In white array'd, I'll myrtle baskets bear, 
And myrtle foliage round my temples wear: 
In arms redoubtable let others shine, 
By Mars protected, mow the martial line; 
You let me please ; my head with roses crown 
And every care in flowing goblets drown : 
Then, when I'm joyous, let the soldier tell. 
What foes were captur'd, and what leaders fell ; 


Or on the boar describe with flowing wine, 

The furious onset, and the flying hne. 

For reason whispers, " Why will short-liv'd man 

By war contract his too contracted span? 

Yet when he leaves the cheerful realms of light, 

No laughing bowls, no harvests cheer the sight; 

But howl the damn'd, the triple monster roars, 

And Charon grumbles on the Stygian shores : 

By fiery lakes the blasted phantoms yell. 

Or shrowd their anguish in the depths of hell. 

In a thatch'd cottage happier he, by far. 
Who never hears of arms, of gold, or war; 
His chaste embrace a numerous offspring crown, 
He courts not fortune's smile, nor dreads her frown ; 
While lenient baths at home his wife prepares. 
He, and his sons, attend their fleecy cares : 
As old, as poor, as peaceful may I be. 
So guard my flocks, and such an offspring see. 

Meantime, soft peace, descend: — O! bless our plains! 
Soft peace to plough with oxen taught the swains. 
Peace plants the orchard, and matures the vine, 
And first gay-laughing press'd the ruddy wine ; 
The father quaffs, deep quaff his joyous friends, 
Yet to his son a well-stor'd vault descends. 

Bright shine the ploughshare, our support and joy; 
But rust, deep rust, the veteran's arms destroy. 

The villager (his sacred offerings paid 
In the dark grove, and consecrated shade), 
His wife and sons, now darkness parts the throng, 
Drives home, and whistles, as he reels along. 
Then triumphs Venus; then love- feuds prevail; 
The youth all jealous then the fair assail; 
Doors, windows fly; no deference they pay, 
The chastest suffer in the' ungentle fray: 
These beat their breasts, and melt in moving tears ; 
The lover weeps, and blames his rage and fears; 
Love sits between, unm.ov'd with tears and sighs, 
And with incentives sly the feud supplies. 

Ye youths, though stung with taunts, of blows beware; 


They, they are impious, who can beat the fair: 
If much provok'd, or rend their silken zone, 
Or on their tresses be your anger shown : 
But if nor this your passion can appease, 
Until the charmer weep, the charmer tease. 
Bless'd anger, if the fair dissolves in tears! 
Bless'd youth, her fondness undisguis'd appears! 
But crush the wretch, O War! with all thy woes, 
Who to rough usage adds the crime of blows. 

Bland peace, descend, with plenty on our plains. 
And bless with ease and laughing sport the swains. 



Attend! and favour! as our sires ordain; 

The fields we lustrate, and the rising grain : 

Come, Bacchus, and thy horns with grapes surround; 

Come, Ceres, with thy wheaten garland crown'd ; 

This hallow'd day suspend each swain his toil, 

Rest let the plough, and rest the' uncultur'd soil : 

Unyoke the steer, his racks heap high with hay. 

And deck with wreaths his honest front to-day. 

Be all your thoughts to this grand work applied ! 

And lay, ye thrifty fair, your wool aside! 

Hence I command you mortals from the rite. 

Who spent in amorous blandishment the night, 

The vernal powers in chastity delight. 

But come, ye pure, in spotless garbs array'd, 

For you the solemn festival is made ! 

Come ! follow thrice the victim round the lands ; 

In running water purify your hands. 

See ! to the flames the willing victim come : 

Ye swains with olive crown'd, be dumb ! be dumb ! 

" From ills, O sylvan gods, our limits shield. 

To-day we purge the farmer and the field ; 

1 A description of the Ambarvalia, a festival instituted by Acca Lau- 
rentia for procuring a blessing on the fields. 


Oh ! let no weeds destroy the rising grain ; 

By no fell prowler be the lambkin slain ; 

So shall the hind dread penury no more; 

But, gaily smiling o'er his plenteous store, 

With liberal hand shall larger billets bring, 

Heap the broad hearth, and hail the genial spring. 

His numerous bond-slaves all in goodly rows, 

With wicker huts your altars shall enclose. 

That done, they'll cheerly laugh, and dance, and play, 

And praise your goodness in their uncouth lay." 

The gods assent : see ! see ! those entrails show. 
That heaven approves of what is done below! 
Now quaff Falernian; let my Chian wine, 
Pour'd from the cask, in massy goblets shine ! 
Drink deep, my friends ; all, all be madly gay, 
'Twere irreligion not to reel to-day! 
Health to Messala ; every peasant toast, 
And not a letter of his name be lost!^ 

O come, my friend, whom Gallic triumphs grace, 
Thou noblest splendour of an ancient race; 
Thou, whom the arts all emulously crown. 
Sword of the state, and honour of the gown ; 
My theme is gratitude, inspire my lays ! 
O, be my genius ! while I strive to praise 
The rural deities, the rural plain ; 
The use of foodful corn they taught the swain. 
They taught man first the social hut to raise. 
And thatch it o'er with turf, or leafy sprays : 
They first to tame the furious bull essay'd, 
And on rude wheels the rolling carriage laid. 
Man le ft his savage ways ; the garden glowed. 
Fruits, not their own, admiring trees bestow'd. 
While through the thirsty ground meandering runnels flow'd. 
There bees of sweets despoil the breathing spring, 
And to their cells the dulcet plunder bring. 

^ Upon certain occasions the Romans drank a bumper for every 
letter of their friend or mistress's name. They received this cus- 
tom from the Grecians. 


The ploughman first, to soothe the toilsome day, 
Chanted in measur'd feet his sylvan lay: 
And, seed-time o'er, he first in blithsome vein 
Pip'd to his household gods the hymning strain. 
Then first the press with purple wine o'er-ran, 
And cooling water made it fit for man. 
The village-lad first made a wreath of flowers, 
To deck in spring the tutelary powers. 
Bless' d be the country ! yearly there the plain 
Yields, when the dog-star burns, the golden grain : 
Thence too thy chorus, Bacchus, first began ; 
The painted clown first laid the tragic plan. 
A goat, the leader of the shaggy throng, 
The village sent it, recompens'd the song.^ 
There too the sheep his woolly treasure wears ; 
There too the swain his woolly treasure shears ; 
This to the thrifty dame long work supplies; 
The distaff hence and basket took their rise. 
Hence too, the various labours of the loom. 
Thy praise, Minerva, and Arachne's doom! 
Mid mountain herds love first drew vital air. 
Unknown to man, and man had nought to fear; 
'Gainst herds, his bow the' unskilful archer drew; 
Ah ! my pierc'd heart, an archer now too true ! 
Now herds may roam untouch'd; 'tis Cupid's joy. 
The brave to vanquish, and to fix the coy. 
The youth whose heart the soft emotion feels, 
Nor sighs for wealth, nor waits at grandeur's heels ; 
Age, fir'd by love, is touch'd by shame no more, 
But blabs its follies at the fair-one's door. 
Led by soft love, the tender trembling fair 
Steals to her swain, and cheats suspicion's care, 
With outstretch'd arms she wins her darkling way. 
And tiptoe listens, that no noise betray. 

Ah ! wretched those, on whom dread Cupid frowns 
How happy they, whose mutual choice he crowns! 

^ The etymology of the words tragedy ("goat song") and comedy 
("village song") indicates the origin of these forms of drama. 


Will love partake the banquet of the day? 
O come — but throw thy burning shafts away. 

Ye swains, begin to mighty love the song; 
Your songs, ye swains, to mighty love belong! 
Breathe out aloud your wishes for my fold. 
Your own soft vows in whispers may be told. 
But hark! loud mirth and music fire the crowd — ■ 
Ye now may venture to request aloud. 

Pursue your sports ; Night mounts her curtain'd wane ; 
The dancing Stars compose her filial train ; 
Black muffled Sleep steals on with silent pace, 
And Dreams flit last, Imagination's race. 


Rise, happy morn, without a cloud arise ! 

This morn, Cornutus ^ bless'd his mother's eyes ! 

Hence each unholy wish, each adverse sound. 

As we his altar's hallow'd verge surround. 

Let rich Arabian odours scent the skies. 

And sacred incense from his altar rise; 

Implor'd, thou tutelary god, descend ! 

And, deck'd with flowery wreaths, the rites attend! 

Then as his brows with precious unguents flow, 

Sweet sacred cakes, and liberal wine bestow. 

O Genius! grant whate'er my friend desires: 
The cake is scatter'd, and the flame aspires ! 
Ask then, my noble friend, whate'er you want: 
What silent still ? your prayer the god will grant : 
Uncovetous of rural wide domains. 
You beg no woody hills, no cultur'd plains: 
Not venal, you request no eastern stores, 
Where ruddy waters lave the gemmy shores : 
Your wish I guess; you wish a beauteous spouse, 
Joy of your joy, and faithful to your vows. 
'Tis done, my friend : see nuptial love appears ! 
See, in his hand a yellow ^ zone he bears ! 

^ Probably the Praetor of that name. 
^ The color consecrated to Hymen. 


A yellow zone, that spite of years shall last, 
And heighten fondness, ev'n when beauty's pass'd. 

With happy sighs, great power, confirm our prayer; 
With endless concord bless the married pair. 
O grant, dread Genius! that a numerous race 
Of beauteous infants crown their fond embrace : 
Their beauteous infants round thy feet shall play, 
And keep with custom'd rites this happy day. 


My fair,* Cornutus. to the country's flown; 
Oh, how insipid is the city grown! 
No taste have they for elegance refin'd ; 
No tender bosoms, who remain behind: 
Now Cytherea glads the laughing plain, 
And smiles and sports compose her silvan train. 
Now Cupid joys to learn the ploughman's phrase. 
And, clad a peasant, o'er the fallows strays. 
Oh! how the weighty prong I'll busy wield, 
Should the fair wander to the labour'd field; 
A farmer then, the crooked ploughshare hold, 
Whilst the dull ox prepares the vigorous mould: 
I'd not complain though Phoebus burnt the lands, 
And painful blisters swell'd my tender hands. 

Admetus' herds the fair Apollo drove, 
In spite of med'cine's power, a prey to love; 
Nor aught avail'd to soothe his amorous care, 
His lyre of silver sound, or waving hair. 
To quench their thirst, the kine to streams he led, 
And drove them from their pasture to the shed. 
The milk to curdle, then, the fair he taught ; 
And from the cheese to strain the dulcet draught. 
Oft, oft, his virgin-sister blush'd for shame, 
As bearing lambkins o'er the field he came : 
Oft would he sing, the listening vales among, 
Till lowing oxen broke the plaintive song. 

^ Nemesis, the sweetheart to whom the remaining elegies in this 
book are addressed. 


To Delphi, trembling anxious chiefs repair, 

But got no answer ; PhcEbus was not there. 

Thy curling locks that charm'd a step-dame's eye, 

A jealous step-dame, now neglected fly. 

To see thee, Phoebus, thus disfigur'd stray! 

Who could discover the fair god of day? 

Constrain'd by Cupid in a cot to pine. 

Where was thy Delos, where the Pythian shrine? 

Thrice happy days ! when love almighty sway'd, 

And openly the gods his will obey'd. 

Now love's soft powers became a common jest — 

Yet those, who feel his influence in their breast, 

The prude's contempt, the wise man's sneer despise. 

Nor would his chains forego to rule the skies. 

Curs'd farm ! that forc'd my Nemesis from town, 
Blasts taint thy vines, and rains thy harvests drown. 
Though hymns implore your aid, great god of wine! 
Assist the lover, and neglect the vine; 
To shades, unpunish'd, ne'er let beauty stray; 
Not all your vintage can its absence pay; 
Rather than harvest should the fair detain. 
May rills and acorns feed the' unactive swain ! 
The swains of old, no golden Ceres knew ; 
And yet how fervent was their love and true! 
Their melting vows the Paphian queen approv'd, 
And every valley witness'd how they lov'd. 
Then lurk'd no spies to catch the willing maid; 
Doorless each house ; in vain no shepherd pray'd. 
Once more, ye simple usages obtain! 
No — lead me, drive me to the cultur'd plain! 
Enchain me, whip me, if the fair command : 
Whip'd and enchain'd, I'll plough the stubborn land! 


Chains, and a haughty fair, I fearless view: 
Hopes of paternal freedom, all adieu! 
Ah, when will love compassionate my woes? 
In one sad tenor my existence flows: 


Whether I kiss or bite the galling chain. 
Alike my pleasure, and alike my pain. 
I burn, I burn, O banish my despair! 
Oh, ease my torture, too too cruel fair! 
Rather than feel such vast, such matchless woe, 
I'd rise some rock o'erspread with endless snow : 
Or frown a cliff on some disastrous shore, 
Where ships are wreck'd, and tempests ever roar! 

In pensive gloominess I pass the night, 
Nor feel contentment at the dawn of light. 
What though the god of verse my woes indite, 
What though I soothing elegies can write, 
No strains of elegy her pride control ; 
Gold is the passport to her venal soul. 
I ask not of the nine the epic lay; 
Ye nine ! or aid my passion, or away. 
I ask not to describe in lofty strain 
The sun's eclipses, or the lunar wane ; 
To win admission to the haughty maid. 
Alone I crave your elegiac aid ; 
But if she still contemns the tearful lay, 
Ye, and your elegies, away, away! 
In vain I ask, but gold ne'er asks in vain ; 
Then will I desolate the world for gain ! 
For gold, I'll impious plunder every shrine; 
But chief, O Venus ! will I plunder thine. 
By thee compell'd, I love a venal maid. 
And quit for bloody fields my peaceful shade: 
By thee compell'd, I rob the hallow'd shrine. 
Then chiefly, Venus, will I plunder thine! 

Perish the man ! whose curs'd industrious toil 
Or finds the gem, or dyes the vv'oolly spoil; 
Hence, hence, the sex's avarice arose. 
And art with nature not enough bestows: 
Hence the fierce dog was posted for a guard. 
The fair grew venal, and their gates were barr'd. 
But weighty presents vigilance o'ercome, 
The gate bursts open, and the dog is dumb. 

'From venal charms, ye gods ! what mischiefs flow ! 


The joy, how much o'er-balanc'd by the woe! 
Hence, hence, so few, sweet love, frequent thy fane; 
Hence, impious slander loads thy guiltless reign. 

But ye, who sell your heavenly charms for hire, 
Your ill-got riches be consum'd with fire! 
May not one lover strive to quench the blaze, 
But smile malicious, as o'er all it preys! 
And when ye die, no gentle friend be near, 
To catch your breath, or shed a genuine tear; 
Behind the corpse, to march in solemn show. 
Or Syrian odours on the pile bestow. 
Far other fates attend the generous maid. 
Though age and sickness bid her beauties fade, 
Still she's rever'd ; and when death's easy call 
Has freed her spirit from life's anxious thrall, 
The pitying neighbours all her loss deplore, 
And many a weeping friend besets the door; 
While some old lover, touch'd with grateful woe, 
Shall yearly garlands on her tomb bestow; 
And, home returning, thus the fair address, 
" Light may the turf thy gentle bosom press." 

'Tis truth ; but what has truth with love to do ? 
Imperious Cupid, I submit to you! 
To sell my father's seat should you command ; 
Adieu my father's gods, my father's land! 
From madding mares, whate'er of poison flows. 
Or on the forehead of their offspring grows ; ^ 
Whate'er Medea brew'd of baleful juice, 
What noxious herbs Emathian hills - produce ; 
Of all, let Nemesis a draught compose. 
Or mingle poisons, feller still than those; 
If she but smile, the deadly cup I'll drain, 
Forget her avarice, and exult in pain ! 

^ The herb coltsfoot was supposed to inflame the sexual desire of 
horses ; see Theocritus, Idyl ii. A fig-like excrescence, appearing on 
the forehead of a foal, and bitten off by the mother, was supposed 
to make the mare passionately fond of the offspring. 
2 In Thrace, the seat of enchantment. 
XI— 14 



To hear our solemn vows, O Phoebus ! deign : 

A novel pontiff^ treads thy sacred fane; 

Nor distant hear, dread power! 'tis Rome's request, 

That with thy golden lyre thou stand'st confess'd : 

Deign, mighty bard! to strike the vocal string, 

And praise thy pontiff; we, his praises sing: 

Around thy brows triumphant laurels twine, 

Thine altar visit, and thy rites divine: 

New flush thy charms, new curl thy waving hair; 

O come the god, in vestment and in air! 

When Saturn was dethron'd ; so crown'd with bays, 

So rob'd, thou sungst the' almighty victor's praise.^ 

What fate, from gods and man, has wrapt in night, 

Prophetic flashes on thy mental sight: 

From thee, diviners learn their prescient lore, 

On reeking bowels, as they thoughtful pore: 

The seer thou teachest the success of things. 

As flies the bird, or feeds, or screams, or sings : 

The sibyl-leaves if Rome ne'er sought in vain; 

Thou gav'st a meaning to the mystic strain : 

Thy sacred influence may this pontiff know, 

And as he reads them, with the prophet glow. 

When great ^neas snatch'd his aged sire, 
And burning Lares, from the Grecian fire ; 

^ Messalinus, to whom the following noble Elegy is addressed, was 
the son of the illustrious Messala. This young nobleman, whom 
both historians and poets represent as inheriting his father's elo- 
quence, had been appointed one of the quindecemviral priests, to 
whose care the keeping and interpretation of the Sibylline oracles 
were intrusted. As these venerable writings had been deposited by 
Augustus under the statue of Apollo, in his new temple, erected on 
Mount Palatine; and as Apollo was supposed to preside over vati- 
cination, and in a particular manner over these mysterious volumes ; 
the poet begins his poem with an address to Apollo, whom he 
earnestly implores to be present at the inauguration of the new: 
2 Augustus. 


She/ she foretold this empire fix'd by fate, 
And all the triumphs of the Roman state ; 
Yet when he saw his Ilion wrap'd in flame, 
He scarce could credit the mysterious dame. 

(Quirinus had not plan'd eternal Rome, 
Nor had his brother met his early doom ; 
Where now Jove's temple swells, low hamlets stood, 
And domes ascend, where heifers crop'd their food. 
Sprinkled with milk,^ Pan grac'd an oak's dun shade, 
And scythe-arm'd Pales watch'd the mossy glade ; 
For help from Pan, to Pan on every bough 
Pipes hung, the grateful shepherd's vocal vow, 
Of reeds, still lessening, was the gift compos'd. 
And friendly wax the' unequal junctures clos'd. 
So where Velabrian streets like cities seem. 
One little wherry plied the lazy stream, 
O'er which the wealthy shepherd's favourite maid 
Was to her swain, on holidays, convey'd ; 
The swain, his truth of passion to declare. 
Or lamb, or cheese, presented to the fair.) 

The Cumsean Sibyl speaks 
"Fierce brother of the power of soft desire. 
Who fly'st, with Trojan gods, the Grecian fire! 
Now Jove assigns thee Laurentine abodes. 
Those friendly plains invite thy banish'd gods: 
There shall a nobler Troy herself applaud, 
Admire her wanderings, and the Grecian fraud ! 
There, thou from yonder sacred stream shalt rise 
A god thyself, and mingle with the skies !^ 
No more thy Phrygians for their country sigh, 
See conquest o'er your shatter'd navy fly ! 
See the Rutulian tents, a mighty blaze! 
Thou, Turnus, soon shalt end thy hateful days! 

' The Sibyl. 

^ It was customary to sprinkle the sylvan gods, Pan and Pales, with 


^ See Ovid's Metam. book xiv. 


The camp I see, Lavinium greets my view, 
And Alba, brave Ascanius! built by you: 
I see thee, Ilia ! leave the vestal fire ; 
And, clasp'd by Mars, in amorous bliss expire! 
On Tyber's bank, thy sacred robes I see, 
And arms abandon'd, eager god ! by thee. 
Your hills crop fast, ye herds ! while fate allows ; 
Eternal Rome shall rise, where now ye brouze : 
Rome, that shall stretch her irresistless reign, 
Wherever Ceres views her golden grain : 
Far as the east extends his purple ray, 
And where the west shuts up the gates of day. 
The truth I sing: so may the laurels prove 
Safe food,^ and I be screen'd from guilty love." 

Thus sung the Sibyl, and address'd her prayer, 
Phoebus! to thee: and, madding, loos'd her hair. 
Nor, Phoebus ! give him only these to know, 
A further knowledge on thy priest bestow : 
Let him interpret what thy favourite maid, 
What Amalthea, what Mermessia said: 
Let him interpret what Albuna bore 
Through Tyber's waves, unwet, to Tyber's furthest shore. 

When stony tempests fell, when comets glar'd. 
Intestine wars their oracles declar'd : 
The sacred groves (our ancestors relate) 
Foretold the changes of the Roman state : 
To charge the clarion sounded in the sky, 
Arms clash'd, blood ran, and warriors seem'd to die: 
With monstrous prodigies the year began; 
An annual darkness the whole globe o'erran ; 
Apollo, shorn of every beamy ray, 
Oft strove, but strove in vain, to light the day: 
The statues of the gods wept tepid tears; 
And speaking oxen fill'd mankind with fears ! 

These were of old: no more, Apollo! frown; 
But in the waves each adverse omen drown. ^ 

^ A frequent chewing of the laurel was supposed to be of great 

efficacy in raising a spirit of divination and poetry. 

* Monstrous births, by way of expiation, were thrown into the sea. 


O! let thy bays, in crackling flames ascend; 

So shall the year with joy begin and end! 

The bays give prosperous signs; rejoice, ye swains! 

Propitious Ceres shall reward your pains. 

With must the jolly rustic purpled o'er, 

Shall squeeze rich clusters, which their tribute pour, 

Till vats are wanting, to contain their store. 

Far hence, ye wolves ! the mellow shepherds bring 

Their gifts to Pales, and her praises sing. 

Now, fir'd with wine, they solemn bonfires raise, 

And leap, untimorous, through the strawy blaze! 

From every cot unnumber'd children throng, 

Frequent the dance, and louder raise the song: 

And while in mirth the hours they thus employ, 

At home the grandsire tends his little boy ; 

And, in each feature pleas'd himself to trace, 

Foretels his prattler will adorn the race. 

The sylvan youth, their grateful homage paid. 
Where plays some streamlet, seek the' embowering shade ; 
Or stretch'd on soft enamell'd meadows lie, 
Where thickest umbrage cools the summer sky: 
With roses, see! the sacred cup is crown'd, 
Hark ! music breathes her animating sound : 
The couch of turf, and festal tables stand 
Of turf, erected by each shepherd-hand ; 
And all well-pleas'd, the votive feast prepare. 
Each one his goblet, and each one his share. 
Now drunk, they blame their stars, and curse the maid; 
But sober, deprecate whate'er they said. 

Perish thy shafts, Apollo ! and thy bow ! 
If love unarmed in our forests go. 
Yet since he learn'd to wing the' unerring dart, 
Much cause has man to curse his fatal art ; 
But most have I : — the sun has wheel'd his round 
Since first I felt the deadly festering wound ; 
Yet, yet I fondly, madly, wish to burn. 
Abjure indifference, and at comfort spurn; 
And though from Nemesis my genius flows, 
Her scarce I sing, so weighty are my woes ! 


O cruel love! how joyous should I be, 
Your arrows broke, and torch extinct, to see ! 
From you, my want of reverence to the skies ! 
From you, my woes and imprecations rise ! 
Yet I advise you, too relentless fair, 
(As heaven protects the bards) a bard to spare! 

E'en now, the pontiff claims my loftiest lay, 
In triumph, soon he'll mount the sacred way. 
Then pictur'd towns shall show successful war, 
And spoils and chiefs attend his ivory car : 
Myself will bear the laurel in my hand; 
And, pleas'd, amid the pleas'd spectators stand : 
While war-worn veterans, with laurels crown'd, 
With lo-triumphs shake the streets around. 
His father hails him, as he rides along. 
And entertains with pompous shows the throng. 

O Phoebus! kindly deign to grant my prayer; 
So may'st thou ever wave thy curled hair; 
So ever may thy virgin-sister's name 
Preserve the lustre of a spotless fame. 


Macer campaigns; who now will thee obey, 
O Love! if Macer^ dare forego thy sway? 
Put on the crest, and grasp the burnish'd shield. 
Pursue the base deserter to the field: 
Or if to winds he gives the loosen'd sail, 
Mount thou the deck, and risk the stormy gale : 
To dare desert thy sweetly-pleasing pains. 
For stormy seas, or sanguinary plains! 
'Tis, Cupid! thine, the wonderer to reclaim, 
Regain thy honour, and avenge thy name. 

^ yEmilius Macer, famous for his gallantry and wit, had been in- 
trusted by the successor of Julius with the execution of some mili- 
tary enterprise. At his departure from Rome, it is probable, he 
boasted to our poet, that however deeply he seemed engaged in 
love, yet was his heart his own, and now only panted for mihtary 


If such thou spar'st, a soldier I will be, 
The meanest soldier, and abandon thee. 
Adieu, ye trifling loves! farewell, ye fair! 
The trumpet charms me, I to camps repair; 
The martial look, the martial garb assume, 
And see the laurel on my forehead bloom. 
My vaunts how vain ! debar'd the cruel maid, 
The warrior softens, and my laurels fade. 
Piqu'd to the soul, how frequent have I swore. 
Her gate so servile to approach no more ? 
Unconscious what I did, I still return'd, 
Was still denied access; and yet, I burn'd! 

Ye youths, whom love commands with angry sway. 
Attend his wars, like me, and pleas'd obey. 
This iron age approves his sway no more; 
All fly to camps for gold, and gold adore : 
Yet gold clothes kindred states in hostile arms; 
Hence blood and death, confusion and alarms! 
Mankind for lust of gold, at once defy 
The naval combat, and the stormy sky! 
The soldier hopes, by martial spoils, to gain 
Flocks without number, and a rich domain: 
His hopes obtain'd by every horrid crime, 
He seeks for marble in each foreign clime : 
A thousand yoke sustain the pillar'd freight, 
And Rome, surpris'd, beholds the enormous weight. 
Let such with moles the furious deep enclose, 
Where fish may swim unhurt, though winter blows : 
Let flocks and villas call the spoiler, lord ! 
And be the spoiler by the fair ador'd! 
Let one we know, a whip'd barbarian slave,^ 
Live like a king, with kingly pride behave: 
Be ours the joys of economic ease, 
From bloody fields remote, and stormy seas. 

In gold, alas I the venal fair delight : 
Since beauty sighs for spoil, for spoil I'll fight. 

^ Demetrius, the freed-man of Pompey, by attending that general in 
his conquests, amassed greater wealth than his master himself. 


In all my plunder Nemesis shall shine ; 

Yours be the profit, be the peril mine : 

To deck your heavenly charms the silk-worm dies, 

Embroidery labours, and the shuttle flies. 

For you, be rifled ocean's pearly store ; 

To you Pactolus send his golden ore. 

Ye Indians, blacken'd by the nearer sun, 

Before her steps in splendid liveries run; 

For you shall wealthy Tyre and Afric vie. 

To yield the purple, and the scarlet dye. 


Thousands in death would seek an end of woe; 
But hope, deceitful hope ! prevents the blow. 
Hope plants the forest, and she sows the plain ; 
And feeds, with future granaries, the swain: 
Hope snares the winged vagrants of the sky, 
Hope cheats in reedy brooks the scaly fry ; 
By hope, the fetter'd slave, the drudge of fate, 
Sings, shakes his irons, and forgets his state ; 
Hope promis'd you; you, haughty, still deny; 
Yield to the goddess ; O my fair ! comply. 
Hope whisper'd me, "Give sorrow to the wind! 
The haughty fair-one shall at last be kind." 
Yet, yet, you treat me wath the same disdain : 
O let not hope's soft whispers prove in vain ! 

Untimely fate your sister snatch'd away; 
Spare me, O spare me ; by her shade I pray ! 
So shall my garlands deck her virgin-tomb ; 
So shall I weep, no hypocrite, her doom! 
So may her grave with rising flowers be dress'd, 
And the green turf lie lightly on her breast. 

Ah me, will nought avail? the world I'll fly. 
And, prostrate at her tomb, a suppliant sigh ! 
To her attentive ghost of you complain ; 
Tell my long sorrowing, tell of your disdain. 
Oft, when alive, in my behalf she spoke: 
Your endless coyness must her shade provoke; 


With ugly dreams she'll haunt your hour of rest, 
And weep before you, an unwelcome guest! 
Ghastly and pale, as when besmear'd with blood, 
Oh, fatal fall! she pass'd the Stygian flood. 

No more, my strains ! your eyes w'ith tears o'erflow, 
This moving object renovates your woe: 
You, you are guiltless ! I your maid accuse ; 
You generous are ! she, she has selfish views. 
Nay, were you guilty, I'll no more complain ; 
One tear from you o'erpays a life of pain. 
She, Phryne, promis'd to promote my vows : 
She took, but never gave my billet-doux. 
You're gone abroad, she confidently swears. 
Oft when your sweet-ton'd voice salutes mine ears: 
Or, when you promise to reward my pains, 
That you're afraid, or indispos'd, she feigns: 
Then madding jealousy inflames my breast; 
Then fancy represents a rival bless'd : 
I w^ish thee, Phryne! then a thousand woes; — ■ 
And if the gods with half my wishes close, 
Phryne! a wretch of wretches thou shalt be. 
And vainly beg of death to set thee free. 




Thy calends. Mars! are come, from whence of old 
The year's beginning our forefathers told : 
Now various gifts through every house impart 
The pleasing tokens of the friendly heart. 
To my Nesera, tuneful virgins ! say. 
What shall I give, what honour shall I pay ? 
Dear, e'en if fickle; dearer, if my friend! 
To the lov'd fair, what present shall I send? 


Gold wins the venal, verse the lovely maid : 
In your smooth numbers be her charms display'd. 


On polish'd ivory let the sheets be roll'd, 

Your name in signature, the edges gold. 

No pumice spare, to smooth each parchment scroll ; 

In a gay wrapper then secure the whole. 

Thus, to adorn your poems be your care; 

And, thus adorn'd, transmit them to the fair. 


Fair maids of Pindus ! I your counsel praise : 
As you advise me, I'll adorn my lays : 
But by your streams, and by your shades, I pray, 
Yourselves the volume to the fair convey. 
O let it lowly at her feet be laid, 
Ere the gilt wrapper or the edges fade ; 
Then let her tell me, if her flames decline. 
If quite extinguish'd, or if still she's mine. 
But first, your graceful salutations paid. 
In terms submissive thus address the maid : 
"Chaste fair! the bard, who doats upon your charms. 
And once could clasp them in his nuptial arms, 
This volume sends; and humbly hopes that you, 
With kind indulgence, will the present view. 
You, you! he prizes more, he vows, than life; 
Still a lov'd sister, or again his wife. 
But oh ! may Hymen bless his virtuous fire, 
And once more grant you to his fond desire ! 
Fix'd in this hope, he'll reach the dreary shore, 
Where sense shall fail, and memory be no more." , 


Hard was the first, who ventur'd to divide 
The youthful bridegroom and the tender bride: 
More hard the bridegroom, who can bear the day, 
When force has torn his tender bride away. 
Here too my patience, here my manhood fails ; 
The brave grow dastards when fierce grief assails : 
Die, die I must ! the truth I freely own ; 
Aly life too burdensome a load is grown. 


Then, when I flit a thin, an empty shade; 
When on the mournful pile my corse is laid; 
With melting grief, with tresses loose and torn, 
Wilt thou, Neaera ! for thy husband mourn ? 
A parent's anguish will thy mother show, 
For the lost youth, who liv'd, who died for you? 

But see the flames o'er all my body stray ! 
And now my shade ye call, and now ye pray, 
In black array'd ; the flame forgets to soar ; 
And now pure water on your hands ye pour. 
My lov'd remains next gather'd in a heap. 
With wine ye sprinkle, and in milk ye steep. 
The moisture dry'd, within the urn ye lay 
My bones, and to the monument convey. 
Panchaian odours thither ye will bring, 
And all the produce of an eastern spring: 
But what than eastern springs I hold more dear, 

wet my ashes with a genuine tear ! 
Thus, by you both lamented, let me die; 

Be thus perform'd my mournful obsequy! 

Then shall these lines, by some throng'd way, relate 

The dear occasion of my dismal fate : 

"Here lies poor Lygdamus; a lovely wife. 

Torn from his arms, cut short his thread of life." 


Why did I supplicate the powers divine? 

Why votive incense burn at every shrine ? 

Not that I marble palaces might own, 

To draw spectators, and to make me known ; 

Not that my teams might plough new purchas'd plains, 

And bounteous autumn glad my countless swains : 

1 beg'd with you my youthful days to share, 
I beg'd in age to clasp the lovely fair; 
And when my stated race of life was o'er, 
I beg'd to pass alone the Stygian shore. 

Can treasur'd gold the tortur'd breast compose ? 
Or plains, wide cultur'd, soothe the lover's woes? 


Can marble-pillar'd domes, the pride of art, 
Secure from sorrow the possessor's heart? 
Not circling woods, resembhng sacred groves, 
Nor Parian pavements, nor gay gilt alcoves, 
Not all the gems that load an eastern shore, 
Not whate'er else the greedy great adore, 
Possess'd, can shield the owner's breast from woe, 
Since fickle fortune governs all below : 
Such toys, in little minds, may envy raise ; 
Still little minds improper objects praise. 
Poor let me be ; for poverty can please 
With you ; without you, crowns could give no ease. 

Shine forth, bright morn ! and every bliss impart, 
Restore Nesera to my doating heart ! 
For if her glad return the gods deny, 
If I solicit still in vain the sky, 
Nor power, nor all the wealth this globe contains, 
Can ever mitigate my heartfelt pains : 
Let others these enjoy; be peace my lot, 
Be mine Nesera, mine an humble cot ! 
Saturnia! grant thy suppliant's timid prayer; 
And aid me, Venus ! from thy pearly chair. 

Yet, if the sisters, who o'er fate preside. 
My vows contemning, still detain my bride; 
Cease, breast, to heave ! cease, anxious blood, to flow ! 
Come, death ! transport me to the realms below. 


Last night's ill-boding dreams, ye gods, avert ! 
Nor plague, with portents, a poor lover's heart. 
But why? From prejudice our terrors rise; 
Vain visions have no commerce with the skies : 
The event of things the gods alone foresee. 
And Tuscan priests^ foretel what they decree. 
Dreams flit at midnight round the lover's head, 
And timorous man alarm with idle dread: 

^ The practice of augury originated in Tuscany. 


And hence oblations, to divert the woe, 
Weak superstitious minds on heaven bestow. 
But since whate'er the gods foretel is true, 
And man's oft warn'd, mysterious dreams! by you: 
Dread Juno ! make my nightly visions vain. 
Vain make my boding fears, and calm my pain. 
The blessed gods, you know. I ne'er revil'd. 
And nought iniquous e'er my heart defil'd. 

Now Night had lav'd her coursers in the main, 
And left to dewy dawn a doubtful reign; 
Bland sleep, that from the couch of sorrow flies, 
(The wretch's solace) had not clos'd my eyes. 
At last, when morn unbarr'd the gates of light, 
A downy slumber shut my labouring sight: 
A youth appear'd, with virgin-laurel crown'd, 
He mov'd majestic, and I heard the sound. 
Such charms, such manly charms, were never seen, 
As fir'd his eyes, and harmoniz'd his mien: 
His hair, in ringlets of an auburn hue. 
Shed Syrian sweets, and o'er his shoulders flew. 
As white as thine, fair Luna, was his skin. 
So vein'd with azure, and as smoothly thin ; 
So soft a blush vermilion'd o'er his face. 
As when a maid first melts in man's embrace ; 
Or when the fair with curious art unite 
The purple amaranth and lily white. 
A bloom like his, when ting'd by autumn's pride. 
Reddens the apple on the sunny side ; 
A Tyrian tunic to his ancles flow'd, 

Which through its sirfled plaits his godlike beauties show'd. 
A lyre, the present Mulciber bestow'd. 
On his left arm with easy grandeur glow'd; 
The peerless work of virgin gold was made. 
With ivory, gems, and tortoise interlaid ; 
O'er all the vocal strings his fingers stray, 
The vocal strings his fingers glad obey, 
And, harmoniz'd, a sprightly prelude play : 
But when he join'd the music of his tongue, 
These soft, sad elegiac lays he sung: 


"All hail, thou care of Heaven! (a virtuous bard. 
The god of wine, the muses, I regard) ; 
But neither Bacchus, nor the Thespian nine. 
The sacred will of destiny divine: 
The secret book of destiny to see. 
Heaven's awful sire has given alone to me; 
And I, unerring god, to you explain 
(Attend and credit) w^hat the fates ordain. ' 

" She who is still your ever constant care, 
Dearer to you than sons to mothers are. 
Whose beauties bloom in every soften'd line. 
Her sex's envy, and the love of thine : 
Not with more warmth is female fondness mov'd. 
Not with more w^armth are tenderest brides belov'd. 
For whom you hourly importune the sky, 
For whom you wish to live, nor fear to die, -v 

Whose form, when night has wrap'd in black the pole, 
Cheats in soft vision your enamour'd soul : 
Neaera ! whose bright charms your verse displays, 
Seeks a new lover, and inconstant strays ! 
For thee no more with mutual warmth she burns, 
But thy chaste house, and chaste embrace, she spurns. 

"O cruel, perjur'd, false, intriguing sex! 
O born with woes, poor wretched man to vex! 
Whoe'er has learn'd her lover to betray, 
Her beauty perish, and her name decay ! 

"Yet, as the sex will change, avoid despair; 
A patient homage may subdue the fair. 
Fierce love taught man to suffer, laugh at pain ; 
Fierce love taught man, with joy, to drag the chain; 
Fierce love (nor vainly fabulous the tale) 
Forc'd me, yes f orc'd me, to the lonely dale : 
There I Admetus' snowy heifers drove. 
Nor tun'd my lyre, nor sung, absorb'd in love. 
The favourite son of Heaven's almighty sire 
Prefer'd a straw-pipe to his golden lyre. 

"Though false the fair, though love is wild, obey; 
Or, youth! you know not love's tyrannic sway. 


In plaintive strains address the haughty fair ; 
The haughty soften at the voice of prayer. 
If ever true my Delphian answers prove, 
Bear this my message to the maid you love : 

" Pride of your sex, and passion of the age! 
No more let other men your love engage; 
A bard on you the Delian god bestows, 
This match alone can warrant your repose." 

He sung. When Morpheus from my pillow flew, 
And plung'd me in substantial griefs anew. 

Ah ! who could think that thou hadst broke thy vows, 
That thou, Nesera! sought'st another spouse? 
Such horrid crimes, as all mankind detest, 
Could they, how could they, harbour in thy breast ? 
The ruthless deep, I know, was not thy sire ; 
Nor fierce chimaera, belching floods of fire; 
Nor didst thou from the triple monster spring. 
Round whom a coil of kindred serpents cling; 
Thou art not of the Lybian lions' seed, 
Of barking Scylla's, nor Charybdis' breed: 
Nor Af ric's sands, nor Scythia gave thee birth ; 
But a compassionate, benignant earth. 
No : thou, my fair ! deriv'st thy noble race 
From parents deck'd with every human grace.^ 

Ye gods ! avert the woes that haunt my mind, 
And give the cruel phantoms to the w'ind. 


While you " at Tuscan baths for pleasure stay, 
(Too hot when Sirius darts his sultry ray, 
Though now the purple spring adorns the trees. 
Not Baia's^ more medicinal than these,) 

1 TibuUus here very cannily ingratiates himself with the father and 
mother of his beloved. 

2 Unknown friends of the poet. 

^ Baia was the most remarkable warm bath in Italy. The name of 
it came in time to stand for thermcc in general. 


Me harder fates attend, my youth decays : 
Yet spare, Persephone ! my blameless days : 
With secret wickedness unstung my soul ; 
I never mix'd nor gave the baneful bowl; 
I ne'er the holy mysteries proclaim'd; 
I fir'd no temple, and no god defam'd : 
Age has not snow'd my jetty locks with white, 
Nor bent my body, nor decay'd my sight : 
(When both the consuls^ fell, ah fatal morn! 
Fatal to Roman freedom! I was born) 
Apples unripe, what folly 'tis to pull. 
Or crush the cluster ere the grapes are full! 

Ye gloomy gods ! whom Acheron obeys, 
Dispel my sickness, and prolong my days. 
Ere to the shades my dreary steps I take. 
Or ferry o'er the irremeable lake, 
Let me (with age when wrinkled all my face) 
Tell ancient stories to my listening race: 
Thrice five long days and nights consum'd with fire, 
(O soothe its rage!) I gradually expire: 
While you the Naiad of your fountain praise. 
Or lave, or spend in gentle sport your days : 
Yet, O my friends! whate'er the Fates decree, 
Joy guide your steps, and still remember me ! 

Meantime, to deprecate the fierce disease, 
And hasten glad returns of vigorous ease; 
Milk, mix'd with wine, O promise to bestow, 
And sable victims, on the gods below.^ 

1 Hirtius and Pansa were killed on the tenth of the calends of 
April, A.u.c. 710 (B.C. 43). 

2 Black cattle were the only victims sacrificed to the dii infcrni. 




Come, Bacchus, come ! so may the mystic vine 
And verdant ivy round thy temples twine! 
My pains, the anguish I endure, remove: 
Oft hast thou vanquish'd the fierce pangs of love. 
Haste, boy ; with old Falernian crown the bowl ; 
In the gay cordial let me drench my soul. 
Hence, gloomy care ! I give you to the wind : 
The god of fancy frolics in my mind. 
My dear companions ! favour my design ; 
Let's drown our senses all in rosy wine! 


Those may the fair with practis'd guile abuse. 
Who, sourly wise, the gay dispute refuse: 
The jolly god can cheerfulness impart, 
Enlarge the soul, and pour out all the heart. 


But Love the monsters of the wood can tame. 
The wildest tigers own the powerful flame : 
He bends the stubborn to his awful sway, 
And melts insensibility away: 
So wide the reign of Love! 


Wine, wine, dear boy! 
Can any here in empty goblets joy? 
No, no ; the god can never disapprove, 
That those w^ho praise him should a bumper love. 

1 This poem, which is one continued struggle between the powers of 
love and wine, but in which the latter triumphs over the former, 
the translator has thrown into a dialogue between the lover and 
one of his boon companions. 
XI— 15 


What terrors arm his brow? the goblet drain: 
To be too sober is to be profane ! 
Her son, who mock'd his rites, Agave tore,^ 
And furious scatter'd round the yelling shore. 
Such fears be far from us, dread god of wine! 
Thy rites we honour, we are wholl}^ thine. 
But let the sober wretch thy vengeance prove : 


Or her whom all my sufferings cannot move ! 
— What pray'd I rashly for? my madding prayer. 
Ye winds, disperse, unratified, in air: 
For though, my love ! I'm blotted from your soul, 
Serenely rise your days, serenely roll! 


The lovesick struggle past, again be gay : 
Come crown'd with roses, let's drink down the day! 


Ah me ! loud-laughing mirth how hard to feign ! 
When doom'd a victim to love's dreadful pain. 
How forc'd the drunken catch, the smiling jest, 
When black solicitude annoys the breast! 


Complaints, away! the blithsome god of wine 
Abhors to hear his genuine votaries whine. 


You, Ariadne ! on a coast unknown. 
The perjur'd Theseus wept, and wept alone; 

^ Penthus, King of Thebes, was torn in pieces by his mother and 
the other Masnades, for having ridiculed the newly-introduced orgies 
c£ Bacchus. See Ovid, Met. lib. iii., and Theocritus, Idyll, xxvi. 


But learn'd Catullus, in immortal strains, 

Has sung his baseness, and has \vept your pains. 


Thrice happy they, who hear experience call, 
And shun the precipice where others fall. 
When the fair clasps you to her breast, beware, 
Nor trust her, by her eyes although she swear ; 
Not though, to drive suspicion from your breast, 
Or love's soft queen, or Juno she attest: 
No truth the women know; their looks are hes. 


Yet Jove connives at amorous perjuries. 
Hence, serious thoughts! then why do I complain? 
The fair are licens'd by the gods to feign. 
Yet would the guardian-powers of gentle love, 
This once indulgent to my wishes prove, 
Each day we then should laugh, and talk, and toy ; 
And pass each night in Hymeneal joy. 
O yet my passion fix thy faithless heart! 
For still I love thee, faithless as thou art. 
Bacchus the Naiad loves ; ^ then haste, my boy ! 
My wine to temper cooler streams employ. 
What though the smiling board Nesera flies, 
xA.nd in a rival's arms perfidious lies; 
The live-long night, all sleepless, must I whine? 
Not I— 


Quick, servants! bring us stronger wine. 

^ Bacchus was brought up by the nymphs ; which, says Vulpius, is a 
poetical figment, signifying that wine ought to be mixed with water. 



Now Syrian odours scent the festal room, 
Let rosy garlands on our foreheads bloom. 


To you my tongue eternal fealty swore, 

My lips the deed with conscious rapture own; 

A fickle libertine I rove no more, 

You only please, and lovely seem alone. 

The numerous beauties that gay Rome can boast, 
With you compar'd, are ughness at best; 

On me their bloom and practis'd smiles are lost. 
Drive then, my fair ! suspicion from your breast. 

Ah, no! suspicion is the test of love: 

I too dread rivals, I'm suspicious grown; 

Your charms the most insensate heart must move 
Would you were beauteous in my eyes alone ! 

I want not man to envy my sweet fate, 
I little care that others think me bless'd ; 

Of happy conquests let the coxcomb prate! 
V^in-glorious vaunts the silent wise detest. 

Supremely pleas'd with you, my heavenly fair! 

In any trackless desert I could dwell ; 
From our recess your smiles would banish care. 

Your eyes give lustre to the midnight cell. 

For various converse I should long no more, 
The blithe, the moral, witty, and severe ; 

Its various arts are her's whom I adore : 
She can depress, exalt, instruct, and cheer. 

POEMS 217 

Should mighty Jove send down from heaven a maid. 
With Venus' cestus zon'd, my faith to try; 

(So, as I truth declare, me Juno aid!) 
For you I'd scorn the charmer of the sky. 

But hold: — you're mad to vow, unthinking fool! 

Her boundless sway you're mad to let her knoAv : 
Safe from alarms, she'll treat you as a tool — 

Ah, babbling tongue ! from thee what mischiefs flow. 

Yet let her use me wnth neglect, disdain ; 

In all, subservient to her will I'll prove: 
Whate'er I feel, her slave I'll still remain. 

Who shrinks from sorrow cannot be in love ! 

Imperial queen of bliss! with fetters bound, 

I'll sit me down before your holy fane; 
You kindly heal the constant lover's wound, 

The' inconstant torture with increase of pain. 



Some of the best modern commentators contend, that the little 
poems which compose this fourth book, are not the work of Tibullus. 
Their chief arguments are derived from the language and sentiment; 
in both which, it is said (and with more justice than is common 
on such occasions), that they bear no resemblance to our poet's 

But if the following little pieces are not the composition of 
Tibullus, to whom shall we impute them? Shall we, with Caspar 
Barthius and Broekhusius, ascribe them to Sulpicia, the wife of 
Calenus, who flourished in the reign of Domitian? This opinion is 
by no means improbable; for we know from Martial and Sidonius 
Apolinaris, that Sulpicia was eminent in those days for her poetry. 

But if the fourth book was composed by Sulpicia, how comes it 
(objects Vulpius) to be found in all the ancient MSS. of Tibullus? 
To this it may be answered, that the old librarians used commonly, 


in order to enhance the price of their MSS., to join to an author, 
who had not left many works behind him, any writer who com- 
posed in what they thought a similar taste. By this means, a satire, 
which our Sulpicia certainly wrote, was long ascribed by some to 
Juvenal, and by others to Ausonius, from having been found in the 
MS. works of those two poets; till some critics of more understand- 
ing [Scaliger, etc.] proved to the learned, neither Juvenal, nor Auso- 
nius, but Martial's Sulpicia wrote it. [This Satire is given in vol- 
ume three.] 

The reader must determine the question for himself. But if 
the translator might be permitted to pronounce on the subject, he 
would say, that if any weight might be laid on difference of style, 
and especially of thought, the following poems cannot be the work 
of Tibullus: — but whether Martial's Sulpicia, or who else wrote 
them, is not in his power to determine. 


Great god of war ! Sulpicia, lovely maid, 

To grace your calends, is in pomp array'd. 

If beauty warms you, quit the' ethereal height, 

E'en Cytherea will indulge the sight: 

But while you gaze o'er all her matchless charms, 

Beware your hands should meanly drop your arms ! 

When Cupid would the gods with love surprise, 

He lights his torches at her radiant eyes. 

A secret grace her every act improves, 

And pleasing follows wheresoe'er she moves. 

If loose her hair upon her bosom plays, 

Unnumbered charms that negligence betrays; 

Or if 'tis plaited with a labour'd care. 

Alike the labour'd plaits become the fair. 

Whether rich Tyrian robes her charms invest. 

Or all in snowy white the nymph is drest, 

AH, all she graces, still supremely fair, 

Still charms spectators with a fond despair. 

A thousand dresses thus Vertumnus wears. 

And beauteous equally in each appears. 

The richest tints and deepest Tyrian hue. 
To thee, O wondrous maid! are solely due: 

POEMS 219 

To thee the' Arabian husbandman should bring 
The spicy produce of his eastern spring: 
Whatever gems the swarthly Indians boast, 
Their shelly treasures, and their golden coast, 
Alone thou merit'st : come, ye tuneful choir! 
And come, bright Phoebus! with thy plausive lyre: 
This solemn festival harmonious praise, 
No theme so much deserves harmonious lays. 


Whether, fierce churning boars! in meads ye stray, 
Or haunt the shady mountain's devious way, 
Whet not your tusks ; my lov'd Cerinthus ^ spare ! 
Know, Cupid! I consign him to your care. 
What madness 'tis, shag'd trackless wilds to beat, 
And wound, with pointed thorns, your tender feet. 

O ! why to savage beasts your charms oppose ? 
With toils and blood-hounds why their haunts enclose? 
The lust of game decoys you far away : 
Ye blood-hounds perish, and ye toils decay! 

Yet, yet could I with lov'd Cerinthus rove 
Through dreary desarts, and the thorny grove : 
The cumbrous meshes on my shoulders bear, 
And face the monsters with my barbed spear : 
Could track the bounding stags througli tainted grounds, 
Beat up their cover, and unchain the hounds. 

But most to spread our artful toils I'd joy, 
For while we watch'd them, I could clasp the boy! 
Then, as entranc'd in amorous bliss we lay, 
Mix'd soul with soul, and melted all away : 
Snar'd in our nets, the boar might safe retire, 
And owe his safety to our mutual fire. 

O ! without me ne'er taste the joys of love ; 
But a chaste hunter in my absence prove. 
And O ! my boars the wanton fair destroy, 
Who would Cerinthus to their arms decoy! 

^ A feigned name, applied only to a handsome youth. 


Yet, yet I dread. — Be sports your father's care; 
But you, all passion ! to my arms repair ! 


Come, Phoebus! with your loosely floating hair, 
O soothe her torture, and restore the fair! 
Come, quickly come! we supplicant implore. 
Such charms your happy skill ne'er sav'd before! 
Let not her frame, consumptive, pine away, 
Her eyes grow languid, and her bloom decay; 
Propitious come ! and with you bring along 
Each pain-subduing herb, and soothing song; 
Or real ills, or whate'er ills we fear, 
To ocean's furthest verge let torrents bear. 
O! rack no more, with harsh, unkind delays. 
The youth, who ceaseless for her safety prays ; 
'Twixt love and rage his tortur'd soul is torn; 
And now he prays, now treats the gods with scorn. 

Take heart, fond youth ! you have not vainly pray'd ; 
Still persevere to love the' enchanting maid : 
Sulpicia is your own ! for you she sighs. 
And slights all other conquests of her eyes : 
Dry then your tears ; your tears would fitly flow 
Did she on others her esteem bestow. 

O come! what honour will be yours, to save 
At once two lovers from the doleful grave? 
Then both will, emulous, exalt your skill ; 
With grateful tablets, both your temples fill: 
Both heap with spicy gums your sacred fire : 
Both sing your praises to the' harmonious lyre : 
Your brother gods will prize your healing powers, 
Lament their attributes, and envy yours. 


On my account, to grief a ceaseless prey, 
Dost thou a sympathetic anguish prove ? 

I would not wash to live another day, 
If my recovery did not charm my love: 

POEMS 221 

For what were life, and health, and bloom to me, 
Were they displeasing, beauteous youth! to thee? 


With feasts I'll ever grace the sacred morn, 
When my Cerinthus, lovely youth, was born. 
At birth, to you the' unerring sisters sung 
Unbounded empire o'er the gay and young : 
But I, chief I, (if you my love repay). 
With rapture own your ever-pleasing sway. 
This I conjure you, by your charming eyes, 
Where love's soft god in wanton ambush lies: 
This by your genius, and the joys we stole, 
Whose sweet remembrance still enchants my soul. 
Great natal genius ! grant my heart's desire, 
So shall I heap with costly gums your fire. 
Whenever fancy paints me to the boy, 
Let his breast pant with an impatient joy: 
But if the libertine for others sigh, 
(Which love forbid) O love! your aid deny. 
Nor, love ! be partial, let us both confess 
The pleasing pain ; or make my passion less. 
But O ! much rather 'tis my soul's desire, 
That both may feel an equal, endless fire. 
In secret my Cerinthus begs the same. 
But the youth blushes to confess his flame : 
Assent, thou god ! to whom his heart is known, 
Whether he public ask, or secret own. 


Accept, O natal queen ! with placent air, 

The incense offer'd by the learned fair. 

She's rob'd in cheerful pomp, O power divine! 

She's rob'd to decorate your matron-shrine: — 

Such her pretence ; but w^ell her lover knows 

Whence her gay look, and w'hence her finery flows. 

Thou, who dost o'er the nuptial bed preside, 
Oh! let not envious night their joys divide, 


But make the bridegroom amorous as tl^e bride! 
So shall they tally, matchless lovely pair ! 
A youth all transport, and a melting fair ! 
Then let no spies their secret haunts explore, 
Teach them thy wiles, O love! and guard the door. 

Assent, chaste queen ! in purple pomp appear ; 
Thrice wine is pour'd, and cakes await you, here. 
Her mother tells her for what boon to pray; 
Her heart denies it, though her lips obey. 
She burns, that altar as the flames devour ; 
She burns, and slights the safety in her power. 
So may the boy, whose chains you proudly wear, 
Through youth the soft indulgent anguish bear; 
And when old age has chill'd his every vein, 
The dear remembrance may he still retain ! 

POEM vn 

At last the natal odious morn draws nigh, 
When to your cold, cold villa ^ I must go ; 

There, far, too far from my Cerinthus sigh : 
Oh why, Messala ! will you plague me so ? 

Let studious mortals prize the silvan scene; 

And ancient maidens hide them in the shade; 
Green trees perpetually give me the spleen; 

For crowds, for joy, for Rome, Sulpicia's made; 

Your too officious kindness gives me pain. 

How fall the hailstones ! hark ! how howls the wind ! 
Then know, to grace your birth-day should I deign, 

My soul, my all, I leave at Rome behind. 

POEM vni 

At last the fair's determin'd not to go: 

My lord! you know the whimsies of the sex. 

^ Situated on a high hill (now Monte Ritonclo). 

POEMS 223 

Then let us gay carouse, let odours flow ; 

Your mind no longer with her absence vex. 
For oh ! consider, time incessant flies ; 
But every day's a birth-day to the wise ! 


That I, descended of Patrician race, 

With charms of fortune, and with charms of face, 

Am so indifferent grown to you of late, 

So little car'd for, now excites no hate. 

Rare taste, and worthy of a poet's brain; 

To prey on garbage, and a slave adore! 
In such to find out charms a bard must feign 

Beyond what fiction ever feign'd of yore. 
Her friends may think Sulpicia is disgrac'd ; 
No! no! she honours your transcendent taste. 


If from the bottom of my lovesick heart, 
Of last night's coyness I do not repent; 
May I no more your tender anguish hear, 
No longer see you shed the' impassiond'd tear. 

You grasp'd my knees, and yet to let you part — 
O night more happy with Cerinthus spent ! 
My flame with coyness to conceal I thought, 
But this concealment was too dearly bought. 


Fame says, my mistress loves another swain ; 
Would I were deaf, when Fame repeats the wrong! 
All crimes to her imputed, give me pain, 
Not change my love : Fame, stop your saucy tongue ! 


Let other maids, whose eyes less prosperous prove, 
Publish my weakness, and condemn my love : 


Exult, my heart! at last the queen of joy, 
Won by the music of her votary's strain, 

Leads to the couch of bhss herself the boy, 
And bids enjoyment thrill in every vein : 
Last night entranc'd in ecstasy we lay. 
And chid the quick, too quick return of day ! 
But stop my hand! beware what loose you scrawl, 
Lest into curious hands the billet fall. 
No — the remembrance charms! — begone, grimace! 
Matrons! be yours formality of face. 
Know, with a youth of worth, the night I spent. 
And cannot, cannot, for my soul repent ! 








The general opinion of the birth-place of Sextus Aurelius 
Propertius has been formed from a passage in the first elegy 
of the fourth book on Rome: where he supposes himself ad- 
dressed by an astrologer, who dissuades him from the higher 
walk of historic poetry. 

Thy seat is ancient Umbria: do I feign? 
Or touch I not upon thy native plain? 
Where dank Mevania drips with hollow vale, 
And Umber's lake feels warm the summer gale; 
Where on a rising cliff ascends the town, 
That from thy genius borrows its renown. 

Scaliger, however, was of opinion, that the Mevania of the 
above passage was not a town, but tract of country: and 
thought the place meant was Ameria. The dispute has been 
agitated between no fewer than nine cities : so that Propertius 
has, in this respect, received a higher compliment than Homer. 
But at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Thaddseus 
Donnola, in his " Dissertationes de Patria Propertii," argued 
in favour of Hispellum, now Spello, also in Umbria; and the 
sagacity of his conjecture has been confirmed by a singular 
discovery. In 1722, some workmen who were employed by a 
lady of the name of Theresa Pamphylia, to make some altera- 
tions in her villa at Spello, dug up a flint-stone tablet, with 
this inscription in antique letters : " Sextus Aurelius Proper- 
tius, son of Sextus, Lemonian tribe:" above the inscription 
is the sculpture of a head, with flowing hair, and above this 
again, at the top of the stone, is the name of " Lucius Comin- 
ius, son of Lucius, Lemonian tribe." The latter inscription 
is in more recent characters than the name of Propertius, and 
the probability is that Cominius succeeded to the villa, which 



had been that of Propertius, and engraved his name over 
that of the former owner. 

There is a spot planted with olive-trees, near the gate of 
St. Barbara, or the Mountain, in the suburbs of Spello, which 
has been known from time immemorial by the name of " The 
Poet:" and tradition has placed here the villa of Propertius: 
of which some bricks, still remaining in the ground, are 
pointed out as the ruins. A Latin inscription is found on the 
same spot, to the following effect: 

Stranger ! behold Propertius' fields appear : 
The rising cliff, the poet's name, are here. 

From this spot the stone tablet had been, in all probability, 
removed to the place, where it was found. 

The father of Propertius was a Roman knight, who served 
with Lucius Antonius : and it has been usually thought that he 
was one of the garrison of Perusium, who, according to Sue- 
tonius, were massacred after their surrender by order of Octa- 
vius, at an altar erected to C?esar. Appian, however, relates 
that they were the senators of Perusium only, with some few 
of his more inveterate enemies, whom Octavius put to death ; 
and that he was urged to this by the importunity of his own 
army, who made a special exception in favour of the soldiery. 
Propertius indeed mentions having buried his father at an un- 
timely age ; but the words " thou didst gather his bones " seem 
to imply that he buried him in peace. His estates were cur- 
tailed by the division of the lands among the veterans. 

The poet informs us that he had scarcely assumed the 
manly gown, when he wrote verses; and that he preferred this 
occupation to the oratory of the bar. It appears from his own 
account that he visited Athens, the fashionable resort of well- 
educated Romans ; and his style bears evident traces of his 
fondness for the Greek language and poesy. His residence at 
Rome was on the Esquiline hill. We learn from Apuleius, 
that the real name of his mistress, Cynthia, was Hostia, the 
daughter of Hostius, who wrote a poem on the " Istrian War." 
She was dissolute and luxurious, but accomplished : an ele- 
gant dancer; of a critical taste, and herself a poetess. She 


appears to have died before him : as in the seventh elegy, fourth 
book, beginning, 

Ghosts are not air: not all with death expires, 
The lucid shade escapes the vanquished fires: 

he supposes her apparition to visit her shimbers. He himself 
is said, I know not on what authority, to have died at the age 
of forty. 

Propertius has been supposed by some critics to be the 
original of the prattling fop, described by Horace as pestering 
him through the streets [Sat. 9, 1. i]. — 


Sauntering down the Sacred Way 
(My usual stroll) the other day. 
Absorbed in personal affairs 
And fancies trifling as my cares, 
I met a chap (I knew the man 
Only by name) who forward ran 
And grabbed my hand: " Why, how d' y' do? 
How is the world a-treating you ? " 
" As times go, fairly well," said I, 
" Obliged, I'm sure. Fine day. Good-bye ! " 
But following after me he came, 
Till I, to block his little game. 
Growled, "Well, what is it?" gruff and surly. 
Squelched? Not a bit. "You know me, surely! 
Why, I'm a fellow litterateur!" 
" I like you none the less, dear sir ! " 
I quickly say, and hurry on. 
Horribly anxious to be gone. 
Awhile I stride along, then stand. 
Whisper a slave some faked command. 
And swear, — the while the sweat I feel 
Go trickling down from head to heel. 
" O blessed Bolanus," I said, 
" With temper as thy top-not red ! 
Why was I cursed with spirit civil ? " 
The while the toady spewed his drivel, 
XI— 16 


And slimed the town with slavering tone 

From pinnacle to paving stone. 

To all his observations dumb, 

I stalked along in silence glum, 

Until at length he said : " I say. 

You're mighty keen to get away. 

For quite a while I've noticed it, 

But you gain nothing, — not a bit ! 

I'll stick it out and follow through. 

Where is this precious rendezvous? " 

"A place where I must go alone; 

I visit one to you unknown : 

Across the Tiber sick he lies. 

Near Caesar's Gardens." He replies, 

"I've nothing on and am not slow; 

I'll toddle after where you go," 

He'll tag along! O suffering Bacchus! 

I drop my ears down as a jackass 

That finds himself, already freighted 

With ugly mood, by wares o'erweighted. 

The bore begins: "If you would make 

A good exchange, for me you'd shake 

Viscus, your friend, or even Varius; 

My talents are so multifarious. 

Write ? You can bet your life upon it ! 

You ought to see me sling a sonnet. 

Or rattle off an epic. Sing? 

Say, would you know the real thing, 

Behold me warble like a linnet ! 

And dance? Hermogenes ain't in it!" 

A chance to interrupt was here: 

" Have you no kindred, parents dear. 

Of whom you are the single stay ? " 

" Not one; all dead this many a day." 

" Thrice happy folks ; now, here I stand ; 

Finish the job ! The hour's at hand 

Of which, when yet a boy, an old 

Sabellian witch of me foretold. 

The scrolls were shaken ; this unrolled : 

Him shall no post-sent poison kill. 

Billy nor sandbag work him ill. 

No pains rheumatic, gout nor cough. 

Nor patent nostrums bear him off; 


A gabbler shall, sometime, destroy 
Him utterly, so let the boy. 
If wise, when grozvn to man's estate, 
Shun every fool and rattle-pate." 

When Vesta's shrine we reached at last 

A quarter of the day had passed. 

He was defendant in a case, 

It seems, and here at justice' place 

He needs must stop or jump his bail. 

" You wouldn't see me go to jail? 

It's only just a step aside — 

Come, help me out ! " And I replied : 

" If I can stay or know a jot 

Of civil law, may I be shot ! 

Must hurry on. Man sick, you know." 

The fellow pondered. " Here's a go ! 

I hardly know the thing to do — 

Which shall I leave — the case or you ? " 

" Me, please ! " " No, that I won't," he said. 

And then began to forge ahead. 

I, as to strive with who wins 

Is useless, follow. He begins: 

" Stand in with old Maecenas, eh? 

A foxy man, as I should say, 

To see the way he picks his friends ; 

No one has worked to better ends 

Dame Fortune's purse strings! If you'd make 

A friend at court, one who would take 

A second place, why, here am I ! 

Just introduce me; may I die. 

But you'd supplant 'em, one and all ! " 

" We live not at Maecenas' hall 

In such a wrangle. Search all Rome, 

You cannot find a purer home. 

Or happier; and," I reply, 

" That he has chosen his friends, 

Concerns me not, nor does it you. 

Each has his place, and keeps it, too ! " 

" That beats my time ; the thing you tell. 

It has a rather fishy smell ! " 

" It's straight." " You're adding oil to fire, 

Inflaming doubly my desire 


To warm up to him as a friend." 
"Your simple wish should win that end; 
Such is your all-transcendent worth, 
From his reserve 'twill draw him forth. 
He's easy, but he knows it; so 
He makes the first approaches slow." 
" Trust me to manage that ! With fees 
His porter's hands I'll slyly grease, 
Nor, if I am shut out one day. 
Will I give up and go away. 
I'll seek occasions, plan to greet 
Him often on the public street 
With all the people by to know it, 
And see him home. What says the poet? 
Life gave naught to mortals ever 
But with strife and great endeavor. 

He is still spouting when we come 
On Fuscus, my particular chum; 
A rascal rounder; knows the bore 
Most beautifully. The greetings o'er, 
That he may free me, I begin 
To pinch his most unfeeling skin. 
To nod, to nudge, to wink, to grin. 
The wicked wag feigns with a smile 
He doesn't see, and all the while 
My liver boils with angry bile. 
" I'm ready, Fuscus, now to chat 

About the little business that " 

" To times less sacred, my dear sir, 
My worldly matters I defer; 
This is the thirtieth Sabbath Day! 
Would you offend the Jews, I pray? " 
" Religion doesn't bother me." 
" But I'm rather weak, you see, 
One of the common herd of men; 
Beg pardon, but I'll talk again." 
Woe worth the unpropitious day! 
The heartless rascal slips away, 
And, like a toad beneath the harrow, 
I'm left to writhe in quarters narrow. 
However, here we're overtaken 
By plaintiff in the case forsaken, 


Who, hot and angry, at us flies. 
" You welcher ! " to the bore he cries ; 
Then turns to me. " Will you appear 
As witness?" I present my ear ^ 
Right heartily. A fight's begun, 
A mob collects to see the fun. 
At last he's dragged to chancery. 
And so Apollo rescued me. 

Translated by M. M. M. 

It is said that Horace has mentioned Tibnlliis ; but it is 
strange he should not have mentioned Propertius also; that 
therefore he must have disliked him ; that the fop made verses : 
therefore the fop could be no other than Propertius. Had 
Horace no friends or acquaintances but those whom he names 
in his writings ? or could Rome produce but one fop who wrote 
verses? To give substance to this shadowy possibility, we 
have an appeal to the works of Propertius, in proof of his 
boastful character. This is to lose sight of the ancient man- 
ners, and of the taste and style of Roman poetry itself. If 
Propertius call himself " the Roman Callimachus," Horace 
boasts that he is the " Prince of ^olic verse." Ovid is full of 
these boastings : yet we hear nothing of the arrogance of Ovid 
and Horace. There is indeed one circumstance which would 
seem to impeach the modesty of Propertius : he appears to 
claim the honour of having first introduced the elegy in 
Roman poetry : he speaks of treading a nev; path ; and of 
culling the flowers of his verse from untrodden recesses of 
Helicon. Now Ovid would not have wronged the just fame 
of Propertius, for he speaks of their close intimacy: Trist. 
b. 4, el. lo. 

To me Propertius would his flames recite : 

Whose heart was mine by friendship's equal right: 

Yet he distinctly ranks Tibullus as preceding Propertius in the 
chronological order of amatory poets : 

^The Roman legal summons was served by touching the ear. 


Virgil I but beheld: and greedy fate 
Denied Tibullus' friendship; wished too late: 
He followed Callus: next Propertius came: 
The last was I : the fourth successive name. 

The pretensions of originality are here, certainly, contra- 
dicted by such evidence of simple facts as must have appealed 
to the knowledge of every man in Rome ; and it is but reason- 
able to ask, whether, if the contradiction were so easy, it is 
likely that Propertius would have risked the ridicule of the 
exposure? for though we are told, with sentimental pomp, 
that Tibullus repaid this unworthy attempt to rob him of the 
glory of invention with the silent disdain which it deserved, 
there is no shadow of proof of this : beyond what is less than 
a shadow, the omission of Tibullus of his name. Why Tibul- 
lus and Propertius ought, in the course of things, to have been 
bosom friends, and to have talked incessantly of each other, I 
can find no reason, except that these poets are usually bound 
together in one volume. The notion that Horace would natur- 
ally be the friend of Propertius, because he was the friend of 
Tibullus, seems to rest on no better foundation ; and therefore 
I cannot see the necessity of the alternative, that they were at 
variance. Their acquaintance is probable, as they must have 
met at the levees and entertainments of their common patron 
Mecaenas : but if the omission of the name of Propertius by 
Horace and Tibullus be a proof of their contempt for him, 
half the poets in Rome are in the same predicament. 

I think the nature of the claim, preferred by Propertius, 
has been misunderstood. Froin his genius w^e may fairly con- 
clude that he was not deficient in understanding ; that he was 
respected at the Roman court is evident from the notice and 
encouragement of Mecsenas ; and it is plain that Ovid men- 
tions his friendship, as something of which to be proud. As 
a gentleman, a scholar, and a man of sense, it is utterly in- 
credible that he should have arrogated to himself the invention 
of the Latin elegy, in the face of all the wits of Rome, who 
had the elegies of Tibullus by heart, and w-ould have laughed 
down liis pretensions at the corner of every street. I am of 
opinion that Propertius alludes to his imitation of the Greek 


elegiac poets ; and that he claims only the merit of having 
introduced their style of elegy. He distinctly says, that he 
came from the fountain head, and taught the orgies of Greek 
poesy to the choir of Italian Muses. He frequently adverts 
to Callimachus and Philetas as his masters and inspirers; and 
we should probably find, were we in possession of their elegies, 
that he was their imitator, if not their translator. That the 
Romans did not consider translation as detracting from the 
praise of genius appears from the instance of the comedies of 
Terence, copied from Menander; and from the passages in 
Virgil's ^neid and Georgics, which are borrowed from 
Homer and Aratus. 

Considered as a writer of amorous elegy, Propertius has 
not the unstudied easy elegance of Tibullus. His compositions 
have an air of labour and ostentatious erudition : he affects a 
close and obscure style ; delights in Grecisms and remote terms ; 
and clogs his subject by thick-sown allusions to the fables of 
heroic mythology. Yet, notwithstanding this appearance of 
art, a vehemence of feeling continually breaks out, which par- 
takes strongly of the enthusiasm of true poetry; and his starts 
and transitions, though they have been blamed, without con- 
sideration, as irregularly digressive, naturally express the emo- 
tions of love. It is in the stormier moments of passion, in the 
pangs of jealousy, and the torments of despair, that the ex- 
cellence of Propertius mostly consists : a vein of sarcasm and 
bitter irony runs through many of his elegies ; and this is the 
cause, why his poems have more of spirit and variety than 
the smoother elegies of Tibullus. Compared generally as 
poets, the genius of Propertius is of a more lofty stamp than 
that of Tibullus. He has a greater depth of thought, and a 
higher reach of fancy. There are several hints in his poems 
of his having been urged by Mecsenas to undertake an epic 
work. From the Elegy on Rome he appears to have contem- 
plated a poem on the Roman Antiquities, sacred and profane: 
an intimation which was, probably, the origin of Ovid's Fasts 
or Festivals : in the same manner as the Epistolary Elegy, from 
Arethusa to Lycotas, was undoubtedly the forerunner of that 
poet's heroical and am.atory epistles. Propertius, hovrever, 
seems to have shrunk from any great undertaking, either from 


diffidence or, more probably, indolence and a love of pleas- 
ure. That his natural, genius was equal to higher attempts, 
the occasional sublimity of his sentiments will attest; but 
to judge from his usual strain of poetry, he was the slave of 
voluptuous and debasing habits : and it may be doubted 
whether he had sufficient solidity of reflection and constancy 
of application for a work which Milton speaks of, as " not 
to be realised from the heat of youth, or the vapours of wine, 
like that, which flows at will from the pen of some vulgar 



Cynthia's ensnaring eyes my bondage tied : 

Ah wretch ! no loves, till then, had touched my breast : 

Love bent to earth these looks of steadfast pride, 
And on my neck his foot triumphant pressed. 

He taught me, then, to loathe the virtuous fair. 
And shameless waste my wild and driftless hours: 

Twelve moons this madness lasts ; and yet my prayer 
Is breathed in hopeless love to adverse powers. 

Minalion, erst, could all adventures brave, 
Till Atalanta's barbarous heart grew mild : 

Love-crazed he trod each drear Parthenian cave, 
And looked on shaggy beasts in forests wild. 

Struck by the branch the monstrous Centaur swayed, 
Midst shrill Arcadia's rocks he groaning fell ; 

And thus he tamed the nimble- footed maid; 

Thus love-prayers speed, and acts that merit well. 

In me no arts can tardy Love devise; 

His foot can track no more the beaten ways : 
Come ye ! that draw the moon from charmed skies ! 

That bid the hearth in magic orgies blaze ! 

Come ! turn a haughty mistress' marble heart. 
And change her cheek, still paler than my own : 

Then will I trust, that stars obey your art. 
And rivers rush, by muttered verse alone. 



Friends ! that too late my sliding feet recall, 
Some antidote to this my frenzy bear: 

Bring steel ; bring flames and racks : I brave them all : 
But let me freely vent my fierce despair. 

Oh snatch me to the world's remotest shore ! 

Oh waft me o'er the immeasurable main! 
Where never woman may behold me more, 

Nor trace my way, to sting with her disdain ! 

Stay ye, to whom the listening God consents ; 

Safe in an equal yoke of fondness move; 
But Venus all my bitter nights torments : 

No — not a single hour is free from love. 

Beware my sufferings : hold the mistress dear 

Whose faith is tried, nor shift the accustomed sway 

If to my voice ye bend a slothful ear. 

What pangs shall my remembered words convey ! 


Why ceaselessly my fancied sloth upbraid, 

As still at conscious Rome my love delayed ? 

Wide as the Po from Hypanis is spread 

The distance that divides her from my bed. 

No more with fondling arms she folds me round. 

Nor in my ear her dulcet whispers sound. 

Once I was dear : nor e'er could lover burn 

With such a tender and a true return. 

Yes — I was envied — hath some God above 

Crushed me ? or magic herb, that severs love, 

Gathered on Caucasus, bewitched my flame ? 

Nymphs change by distance : I'm no more the same. 

Oh what a love has fleeted like the wind, 

And left no vestige of its trace behind! 

Now sad I count the lingering nights alone 

And my own ears are startled by my groan. 


Happy ! the youth who weeps, his mistress nigh ; 

Love with such tears has mingled ecstasy : 

Blest, who, when scorned, can change his passing heat ; 

Tlie pleasures of translated bonds are sweet. 

I can no other love : nor hence depart : 

For Cynthia, first and last, is mistress of my heart. 


Ah! thou, that vaunted'st, nought could harm thy breast, 
Art caught : that haughty spirit crouches tame : 

Scarce one short month art thou content to rest, 
And lo! another love-book speaks thy shame. 

Late I was free : my sleep without a thorn : 

In widowed bed, and single quiet laid : 
I trusted to the peace which Love had sworn, 

But false and hollow was the truce he made. 

I sought if fishes on the sands might live, 

Or the wild boar through seas accustomed stray : 

If wakeful studies might abstraction give: 
Love, though deferred, is never chased away. 

As from his neck the bull shakes fierce the plough ; 

But soon bends mildly to the wonted yoke : 
Young lovers blustering chafe; but humbled bow; 

And tamely bear each light and heavy stroke. 

Inglorious chains Melampus patient took. 
Who stole from Iphiclus his herds away: 

Not gain compelled, but Pero's lovely look : 
Thus in his brother's arms a bride she lay. 

Twas not her face, though fair, that caught my sight ; 

Less fair the lily's bell : as Scythian snows 
Should blend Ebro's red their virgin white. 

Or in pure cream as floats the scattered rose : 


Not tresses, that enringed in crisped twine, 
Flow loose with their accustomed careless art 

Down her smooth marble neck ; nor eyes that shine 
Torches of passion: load-stars of my heart: 

Not that through silken folds of Araby 

The nymph's fine limbs with lucid motion gleam : 

(For no ideal beauties heaves my sigh 
Nor airy nothings prompt my amorous dream:) 

Not all so charms, as when aside she lays 
The mantling cup, and glides before my view: 

Graceful as Ariadne through the maze 

Of choral dance with Bacchic revellers flew: 

Or when inspired by Aganippe's stream, 

O'er Sappho's lyre with sportive touch she strays ; 

And challenges Corinna's ancient theme, 
And coldly listens to Erinne's lays. 

When first, sweet soul! you saw the light of Heaven 
Did love with clear, shrill-echoed omen sneeze ? 

The Gods have all thy rare endowments given : 
The Gods have given, nor from thy mother these. 

Not these the fruit of merely human birth, 

Nor ten short moons matured thy every grace: 

Thou art the glory of our Roman earth, 
A bride for Jove, the first of Roman race : 

Not always on my mortal couch to lie : 
A second Helen treads this earthly ball : 

.What wonder, that our youth in ardour sigh ? 
For her, oh Troy ! more splendid were thy fall. 

I once admired, that for a woman's eyes 

Round Ilium's ramparts Europe, Asia, strove : 
Wise Paris was, and Menelaus wise : 

Who claimed, and who refused, the cause of love. 


But hers are charms that might Achilles bend, 
Might warm old Priam, and might sanction war ; 

Hers ancient painting's breathing forms transcend : 
To all of pictured fame superior far. 

To west and east her blooming portrait show, 
Both east and west she shall inflame with love: 

Why tarries she in human form below? 
Thy ancient gallantries I pardon, Jove! 

Yellow her hair; her shapely hands are long; 

Tall her fine form, and Juno-like she treads : 
So Pallas walks Dulichian shrines among, 

While her broad breast the snaky mail o'erspreads. 

Such as Ischomache, the heroine-bride, 

When rape of wine-flushed Centaurs dared her charms : 
Such virgin Brimo, nothing loth, beside 

Beboeis' fountain, sank in Hermes' arms. 

Yield Goddesses! whom erst the shepherd saw 
Disrobe your limbs in Ida's mountain-glade : 

May never age its lines transforming draw, 
Through hers the lustres of the Sybil Maid. 


Then wide through Rome — and is it, Cynthia, true? 

Thy name is blown ; thy wanton actions fly : 
Looked I for this ? — this, traitress ! thou shalt rue ; 

The northern wind shall teach me constancy. 

One, whom thy sex's treachery less inspires, 
I'll seek ; who from my song will covet fame ; 

Whose shamelessness will not insult my fires ; 
Whose nimble tongue shall scandalize thy name. 

Oh long beloved ! too late thy tears will flow ! 
Now fresh my fury; let me now depart; 

242 PROPER! lUS 

When anger cools, alas ! too well I know, 
Love will resume its influence o'er my heart. 

Not so the north-wind turns Carpathian tides, 
Nor blackening clouds the veering south obey ; 

As, at a word, the lover soothed subsides ; 

Loose, then, the unequal yoke, while yet we may. 

And thou, not wholly from compunction free, 
Wilt somewhat grieve ; but only on the night 

When thy late lover first is missed by thee ; 
All ills of love become, by patience, light. 

But oh ! by Juno's dear, protecting name, 

Harm not thyself, nor give these passions rein; 

Not the horned bull, alone, will wrongs inflame; 
E'en the mild sheep, if injured, turns again. 

I will not from thy perjured bosom tear 
The vest away ; thy bolted chamber storm ; 

Pluck with infuriate grasp thy braided hair, 
Nor with hard nails thy tender cheeks deform; 

Thus let the rustic churl his anger show ; 

To such these base revenges I resign ; 
For whom no garlands of the Muses grow. 

Round whose rude brow no ivy tendrils twine ; 

But I will write — what thou wouldst blot in vain : 
O Cynthia — C5mthia, beautiful, and frail: 

Fame's busy murmurs thou may'st still disdain. 
Yet this my verse shall dye thy cheek with pale ! 


Not such Corinthian Lais' sighing train 
Before whose gates all prostrate Greece had lain : 
Not such a crowd Menander's Thais drew, 
Whose charms the Athenian people joyed to woo : 


Nor she, who could the Theban towers rebuild, 

When hosts of suitors had their coffers filled. 

Nay — by false kinsmen are thy lips carest : 

By sanctioned, simulated, kisses prest. 

The forms of youth and beauteous Gods, that rise 

Around thy pictured roof, offend mine eyes. 

The tender lisping babe, by thee carest 

Within its cradle, wounds my jealous breast. 

I fear thy mother's kiss ; thy sister dread ; 

Suspect the virgin partner of her bed: 

All wakes my spleen; a very coward grown: 

Forgive the fears, that spring from thee alone. 

Wretched in jealous terror, to my eyes 

Beneath each female robe a lover lies. 

Blest was Admetus' spouse ; and blest the dame 

Who shared Ulysses' couch in modest fame : 

Oh! ever happy shall the fair-one prove. 

Who by her husband's threshold bounds her love. 

Ah ! why should Modesty's pure fane ascend : 

Why at her shrine the blushing maiden bend : 

If, when she weds, her passions spurn control: 

If the bold matron sates her washful soul? 

The hand, that first in naked colours traced 

Groups of loose loves, on walls that once were chaste: 

And full exposed, broad burning on the light, 

The shapes and postures that abash the sight ; 

Made artless minds in crime's refinements wise, 

And flashed enlightening vice on virgin eyes. 

Woe to the wretch ! who thus insidious wove 

Mute rapture's veil o'er wrath and tears of love! 

Not thus the roofs were decided in olden time, 

Nor the stained walls were painted with a crime: 

Then, for some cause, the desert fanes of Rome 

Wave with rank grass, while spiders veil the dome. 

What guards, oh Cynthia! shall thy path confine? 

What threshold bound that wilful foot of thine? 

Weak is constraint, if women loth obey, 

And she is safe, who, blushing, fears to stray. 



Twice ten long years Penelope was wooed, 

Yet chaste remained, by countless lovers sued : 

With fictious woof her wedlock could delay. 

And rent by night the threads she wove by day : 

Hopeless Ulysses to behold again, 

Yet tarrying, saw her youthful beauties wane. 

Briseis' arms the dead Achilles pressed ; 

With frantic hand she smote her snowy breast, 

Mourning her bleeding lord ; and, though a slave. 

Washed his strained corse in Simois' shallower wave 

Soiled her fair locks; and in her slender hold 

Culled from the pile those bones of giant mould: 

No sire, no blue-haired mother of the sea, 

Nor widowed Deidamia mourned for thee. 

Then her true sons did Grecia's glory wield. 

When modest love could bless the tented field. 

Thou not a single night alone canst stay: 

No — shameless woman ! not a single day. 

Now thy gay laugh midst circling goblets flies : 

Myself, perchance, thy raillery's sacrifice. 

E'en him thou seek'st, who late forsook thy charms : 

Then, may the Gods consign him to thy arms ! 

But, when in tears we stood around thy bed ; 

When Styx had nigh o'erwhelmed thy sinking head ; 

When my fond vows were silent breathed for thee. 

Where then, perfidious ! where, and what was he ? 

Would'st thou for me thus fondly breathe the prayer. 

Did I to farthest Ind the standard bear ; 

Or in mid-ocean were my galley placed, 

A lonely speck amidst the watery waste? 

Yes — words and smooth deceits are thine at will : 

This task is easy to a woman still. 

Not Afric's sands so fluctuate to the blast, 

Or quivering leaves on wintry gales are cast; 

As passion's gust bids woman's promise fly, 

Be rage the cause, or be it levity. 


Since 'tis thy pleasure, I no more contend : 
Ye cruel Loves ! yet keener arrows bend ; 
Right-aiming at my heart, dissolve my life ; 
My blood the palm of this your glorious strife. 
And must thou, thus, Propertius ! in the bloom 
Of opening youth, descend into the tomb? 
Must thou then die? yes, die — that she may view 
Thy corse with smiles : they fleeting ghost pursue 
With her tormenting scorn ; disturb thee dead ; 
Leap on thy pyre, and on thy ashes tread. 
What? did not Hsemon on his bloody glaive 
Fall, by Antigone's untimely grave; 
And mix his ashes in the maiden's urn, 
Nor would, without her, to his Thebes return ? 
Thou shalt not scape : yes, thou my death shalt feel : 
Our mingled blood shall trickle from the steel. 
Yes — though thy death to ages brand my name. 
That death shall reach thee, and I brave the shame. 
Witness the stars ! the dews of morning's hour ! 
The stealthy door, which opened to thy bower : 
That naught in life more precious was to me, 
And still I love thee : yes, in spite of thee! 
No other nymph shall on my couch recline 
Alone and loveless, since no longer thine. 
Ah! if my life some virtuous years have known, 
May he thy arms enfold be turned to stone ! 
Not with some horrid zest and thirst of blood, 
Thebes' princes fought, while near their mother stood : 
Than I, if Cynthia's presence fired the strife, 
.Would yield my own to snatch my rival's life. 


Be praised by others, or unknown remain : 
Who sings thy praise will sow a barren plain. 
The funeral couch, that last, that gloomy day, 
Shall bear those offerings, with thyself, away : 
The traveller o'er thy slighted bones shall tread 
With heedless foot, unconscious of the dead; 

XI— 17 


Nor, lingering at thy nameless grave, declare, 
** This heap of dust was an accomplished fair." 


Had he not hands of rare device, whoe'er 
First painted Love in figure of a boy? 

He saw what thoughtless beings lovers were, 
Who blessings lose, whilst lightest cares employ. 

Nor added he those airy wings in vain. 

And bade through human hearts the godhead fly; 

For we are tost upon a wavering main ; 
Our gale, inconstant, veers around the sky. 

Nor, without cause, he grasps those barbed darts. 
The Cretan quiver o'er his shoulder cast; 

Ere we suspect a foe, he strikes our hearts ; 
And those inflicted wounds for ever last. 

In me are fixed those arrows, in my breast ; 

But sure his wings are shorn, the boy remains ; 
For never takes he flight, nor knows he rest ; 

Still, still I feel him warring through my veins. 

In these scorched vitals dost thou joy to dwell? 

Oh shame ! to others let thy arrows flee ; 
Let veins untouched with all thy venom swell ; 

Not me thou torturest, but the shade of me. 

Destroy me — who shall then describe the fair? 

This my light Muse to thee high glory brings : 
When the nymph's tapering fingers, flowing hair. 

And eyes of jet, and gliding feet she sings. 


Fewer the Persic darts in Susa's bands 

Than in my breast those arrows sheathed by Love : 


He not to scorn the tender Muse commands, 
And bids my dwelling be the Ascrasan grove. 

Not that Pierian oaks may seek my lyre, 

Nor savage beasts from vales Ismarian throng ; 

But that my Cynthia may the strain admire, 
And I than Linus rise more famed in song. 

Not an engaging form so charms mine eye ; 

Not so the fair one's noble lineage moves ; 
As on the accomplished nymph's soft breast to lie, 

And read what she with chastened ear approves. 

Be this my lot, and henceforth I despise 

The mingled babblings of the vulgar throng: 

"What are to me e'en Jove's dread enmities, 
If she appeased relent, and love my song? 


Then, soon as night o'ershades my dying eyes. 
Hear my last charge : let no procession trail 

Its lengthened pomp, to grace my obsequies, 
No trump with empty moan my fate bewail. 

Let not the ivory stand my bier sustain. 

Nor on embroidered vests my corse recline ; 

Nor odour-breathing censers crowd the train : 
The poor-man's mean solemnities be mine. 

Enough of state — enough, if of my verse 
Three slender rolls be borne with pious care : 

No greater gift, attendant on my hearse, 
Can soothe the breast of hell's imperial fair. 

But thou, slow- following, beat thy naked breast, 
Nor weary faint with calling on the dead : 

Be thy last kisses to my cold lips prest, 
.While alabaster vases unguents shed. 


When flames the pyre, and I am embers made, 

My rehcs to an earthen shell convey : 
Then plant a laurel, which the tomb may shade, 

Where my quenched ashes rest, and grave the lay : 

" What here a heap of shapeless ashes lies, 
Was once the faithful slave of Love alone : " 

Then shall my sepulchre renowned arise 
As the betrothed Achilles' blood-stained stone. 

And thou, whene'er thou yieldest thus to fate, 

Oh dear one! seek the memorable way 
Already trod ; the mindful stones await 

Thy second coming, and for thee they stay. 

Meantime, whilst life endures, oh, warned beware 
Lest thou the buried lover should'st despise : 

Some conscious spark e'en mouldering ashes share : 
The senseless clay is touched by injuries. 

Ah ! would some kinder Fate while yet I lay 
In cradled sleep, had bid me breathe my last ! 

What boots the breath of our precarious day? 
Nestor is dead, his three long ages past. 

On Ilium's rampart had the Phrygian spear 
Abridged his age, and sent a swifter doom: 

He ne'er had seen his sons' untimely bier, 

Nor cried, " Oh death ! why art thou slow to come ? " 

Thou thy lost friend shalt many a time deplore ; 

And love may ever last for those who die : 
Witness Adonis, when the ruthless boar 

Smote in the Idalian brake his snowy thigh: 

'Tis said, that Venus wept her lover lost, 

Trod the dank soil, and spread her streaming hair: 

Thou too in vain would'st call upon my ghost: 
These mouldered bones are dumb to thy despair. 



The Prsetor from Illyria comes again : 

Thy spoil and prey ; my torment and my bane : 

Could not Ceraunian rocks his barks have wrecked? 

What gifts, oh Neptune! had thy altars decked! 

Now is thy table filled ; thy midnight door 

Left soft ajar; but ah! for me no more. 

Yes — now if wise, the inviting harvest reap; 

Fleece with no sparing hand the silly sheep: 

Then, when his gifts run dry command him sail 

To new Illyrias with a prosperous gale. 

No wreathes, no fasces draw my Cynthia's gaze ; 

But evermore her lover's purse she weighs. 

Aid, Venus ! aid my anguish ! quick — dispense 

The unnerving plagues of blasting impotence ! 

Then bartered gifts can now a mistress move? 

For gifts, oh Jupiter! she pines in love. 

For lucid gems she sends me o'er the main. 

And bids me seek in Tyre the purple grain : 

Oh that in Rome no lords of wealth we saw; 

That e'en the palace-roof were thatched with straw ! 

No venal mistress then would melt to gold : 

Beneath one roof the bride would then grow old. 

Not that seven nights, while I apart recline, 

The snowy arms round that vile reptile twine: 

Not bear me witness, am I wroth with thee : 

I curse the fair's proverbial levity. 

A stranger tracks the traces of my kiss, 

And sudden blest usurps my throne of bliss. 

Ah! Eriphyle's bitter gifts survey! 

On Jason's bride see fiery torments prey ! 

Can then no wrongs forbid my tears to flow. 

Nor I the vice forsake, that feel the woe ? 

Whole days have fled ; nor longer Mars's field. 

The theatre, the Muse, delight can yield: 

Shame ! where is now thy blush ? but ah ! I fear 

That a disgraceful passion cannot hear. 


Look on the chief, who late with treason's host 

Raised empty uproar on the Actian coast : 

Love ignominious turned his flying prores, 

And drove him to the world's remotest shores : 

Augustus' brow a double glory wreathes : 

The hand that conquered now the falchion sheathes. 

Oh ! may those robes, those emeralds which he gave, 

Be snatched by storms through air or o'er the wave : 

Those chrysolites, that gleam with yellow light, 

Be turned to earth and water in thy sight ! 

Not always Jove whom perjured lovers swear 

Complacent laughs, nor deaf rejects the prayer. 

Heard'st thou yon roll of thunder, muttering deep? 

Sawest thou from ether's vault the light'nings leap? 

No Pleiads — no Orion's clouds are here; 

Nor casual falls the fiery atmosphere. 

On nymphs forsworn wrath lightens from above, 

For e'en the God has wept, betrayed in love. 

Is Sidon's crimson garment still thy care ? 

But tremble, false one ! at the darkened air ! 


Though, with unwilling eyes, from Rome I see 
Thy mourned departure, my regretted love ! 

Yet I rejoice that, e'en remote from me, 
Thy feet the solitary woodlands rove. 

In the chaste fields no soft seducer sighs 

With blandishments, that force thee to thy shame ; 

No wanton brawls before thy windows rise ; 

Nor scared thy sleep with those that call thy name. 

Thou art in solitude — and all around 

Lone hills, and herds, and humble cots appear ; 

No theatres can here thy virtue wound, 

No fanes, the cause of sin, corrupt thee here. 


Thou shalt behold the steers the furrows turn ; 

The curved knife, dexterous, prune the foliaged vine; 
Thy grains of incense in rude chapel burn, 

And see the goat fall at a rustic shrine ; 

Or, with bare leg, the rural dance essay. 

But safe from each strange lover's prying sight: 

And I will seek the chase : alternate pay 
To Venus vows, and join Diana's rite. 

Chide the bold hound ; in w^oodland covert lie, 
And hang the antlered spoil on pine-tree boughs ; 

But no huge lion in his lair defy, 

Nor savage boar, with nimble onset, rouse. 

My prowess be to seize the timid hare, 

Or from my reedy quiver pierce the bird ; 
Nigh where Clitumnus winds his waters fair 

Through arching trees, and laves the snow-white herd, 

Whate'er thy sports, remember, sweetest soul ! 

A few short days will bring me to thy side ; 
For not the lonely woods, the rills that roll 

Down mossy crags in smooth, meandering tide, 

Can so divert the jealousy of fear, 

But that I name thee by some fancied name, 
While earnest in thy praise ; lest they, that hear, 

Should seek thee absent, and seduce to shame. 


" Framest thou excuse, who art a tale to all ? 

Whose Cynthia long is read at every stall ? " 

These words might damp a deaf man's brow, and move 

A candid blush for mean and nameless love. 

But did my Cynthia breathe a melting sigh, 

I were not called the head of levity : 


Nor broad town-scandal should traduce my fame : 

Then would I speak, though branded thus by name. 

Wonder not thou that meaner nymphs invite : 

They less defame me: are the causes light? 

She'll now a fan of peacock's plumes demand; 

And now a crystal ball to cool her hand : 

Tease me to death for ivory dice, and pray 

For glittering baubles of the sacred way. 

Ah ! let me die if I regard the cost : 

A jilting fair-one's mockery stings me most. 

Was this the favour to transport my heart? 

Thou feel'st no blush, thus charming as thou art : 

Scarce two short nights in tender joys are sped, 

And I am called intruder on thy bed. 

Yet would'st thou praise my person : read my lay : 

Has this thy love then flown so swift away? 

The race of genius may my rival run : 

But let him learn from me to love but one. 

What! he forsooth will Lerna's snake enfold; 

Snatch from the Hesperian dragon fruits of gold ; 

Drain poisonous juice ; or shipwrecked gulp the sea ; 

And from no miseries shrink, for sake of thee? 

Ah ! would, my life ! these tasks were proved in me ! 

Then should we find this gallant, now so proud. 

Skulk his mean head among the coward crowd. 

Let the vain braggart vaunt his puffed success : 

One short year shall divorce your tenderness. 

No Sibyl's years, Herculean toils avail. 

Nor that last gloomy day to make my fondness fail. 

Yes — thou shalt cull my bones, which tears bedew : 

" Propertius ! these w^ere thine : ah tried and true ! 

Ah me ! most true ! though not through noble veins 

Flowed thy rich blood, nor ample thy domains." 

Yes — I will all endure : all wrongs are slight : 

A beauteous woman makes the burthen light. 

Many for thee, I well believe, have sighed ; 

But few of men in constancy are tried. 

Brief time for Ariadne Theseus burned : 

Demophoon from his Phillis ingrate turned : 


In Jason's bark the sea Medea braved, 

Yet, lone abandoned, cursed the man she saved : 

Hard too the woman's heart, whose feigned desire 

For many lovers fans the ready fire. 

Not to the suitors, vain of noble race, 

Not to the wealthy, yield thy bribed embrace : 

Of these scarce one would shed a tear for thee, 

Or near thy urn be found, as I shall be. 

Yet rather thou for me, grant heaven ! the prayer : 

Smite on thy naked breast, and strew thy streaming hair. 


Oh lovely torment! for my anguish born, 

Since oft excluded from thy door in scorn : 

Come to these arms ; my verse renown can give ; 

Here thou the fairest of thy sex shalt live : 

Let not my boast Catullus' ear offend ; 

Let gentle Calvus too his pardon lend. 

The veteran, gray with service, quits the field ; 

Their necks no more the age-worn oxen yield ; 

On the waste sands the mouldering barks remain, 

And the cleft shield hangs idle in the fane. 

Were it not better crouch, a tyrant's slave, 

And in thy brazen bulls, Perillus ! rave ; 

At Gorgon's visage stiffen into stone, 

Or under Caucasus' keen vultures groan. 

Still I persist : lo ! rust can steel decay. 

And gentle droppings wear the flint away. 

Love to the marble threshold clings, nor feels 

The wearing stone ; though threatened, patient kneels ; 

Though wronged, pleads guilt; implores the foot that spurns; 

And, loth returning, yet, when called, returns. 

And thou, full-flushed with bliss ! be taught from me, 

Fond rival ! woman's light inconstancy. 

In the mid-storm who pays his thanks to heaven, 

When oft, in port, the floating wreck is driven? 

Who claims the prize, ere seven-times round the goal 

With grazing wheel, the kindling chariot roll ? 


In love's fair sky fallacious breezes blow. 

And heavy comes the storm, when threatening slow. 

E'en though she love thee, be thy joy supprest, 

And lock the secret in thy silent breast. 

The boastings of successful passion prove, 

I know not how, injurious oft in love. 

Go once, for many times that she invites; 

Short is the bliss, which prying envy blights. 

Oh, if the ages past could votaries find, 

And if our nymphs were of that ancient kind, 

What now thou art, should I, unrivalled, be ; 

The time's corruption hath supplanted me. 

Not from this age my nature takes its hue ; 

Each has his path, and I my own pursue. 

But thou, whose courtship thus promiscuous roves, 

How must thine eyes be tortured by thy loves ! 

Thou seest the skin with lunar clearness white. 

Thou seest the brown of tint, and both delight ; 

Charmed by the shape through Grecian robes displayed, 

By vestures ravished of the Roman maid. 

Be russet garments, or the purple, worn, 

By both alike thy tender breast is torn. 

One only nymph might well employ thy dreams ; 

One nymph variety of torment seems. 


Mortals! ye fain would search with curious eyes, 
Death's hovering hour, and ever-varied way ; 

Scan with Phoenician art the starlit skies. 
And, kind or adverse, read each planet's ray. 

Britons our fleets, and Parths our legions, fear. 
Yet still blind perils haunt the earth and main ; 

Anxious ye rue the tumult thickening near, 
When Mars joins havoc on the dubious plain. 

Ye dread, lest flames your crashing roofs devour. 
Or livid poison lurk within your bowl : 


The lover only knows his fated hour ; 

Nor blasts, nor arms, give terror to his soul. 

Though now on reedy Styx the oar he ply, 
E'en now, the murky sail of Hell survey; 

Let her he loves recall him with a sigh, 
He shall retrace that unpermitted way. 


As yesternight, my life! I roamed the street, 

Flushed with the grape, no slave to guide my feet: 

A tiny multitude of boys drew near: 

I could not count them from my wildering fear. 

Some torches shook ; some brandished darts in air ; 

Some rattled chains ; their rosy limbs were bare. 

Till one, more petulant in mischief, cried, 

" Seize, bind him ; he is known to us, and tried : 

'Tis he, marked out by an offended fair." 

Instant my neck was noosed in knotted snare : 

One shouts to drag me forth ; another cries, 

" Wretch! if he doubts that we are Gods, he dies. 

For thee, all undeserving as thou art, 

She wakeful counts the hours, that slow depart : 

And still expectant sighs ; while some strange fair 

Attracts thee to her door : we know not where. 

Fond fool ! when, disentangled from her head 

Her nightly turban's purple fillet's spread. 

As, drooping with moist sleep, she lifts her eyes, 

Such odours from her locks dishevelled rise, 

As ne'er Arabia's breathing balms dift'use; 

For Love's own hands extract those essenced dews. 

But spare him, brothers ! the repentant youth 

Gives his free promise now of amorous truth: 

And see, we reach the appointed house," he said : 

Then my stript mantle o'er my shoulders spread, 

And led me in : " Go now : no longer roam : 

But learn from this to pass thy nights at home." 



Sprite of Callimachus! and thou blest shade, 
Coan Philetas ! I your grove would tread ; 

Me, Love's vowed priest, have Grecia's choirs obeyed, 
From their pure fount in Latian orgies led. 

Say, Spirits ! what inspiriting grotto gave 

Alike to both that subtly tender strain : 
Which foot auspicious entered first the cave. 

Or from what spring ye drank your flowing vein ? 

Who lists, may din with arms Apollo's ear : 

Smooth let the numbers glide, whose fame on high 

Lifts me from earth : behold my muse appear ! 
And on wreathed coursers pass in triumph by! 

With me the little Loves the car ascend; 

My chariot-wheels a throng of bards pursues; 
Why, with loose reins, in idle strife contend? 

Narrow the course which Heaven assigns the Muse. 

Full many Rome shall bid thy annals shine, 
And Asian Bactra rise thy empire's bound; 

Mine are the lays of peace, and flowers are mine 
Gathered on Helicon's untrodden ground. 

Maids of the sacred fount! with no harsh crown, 
But with soft garland wreathe your poet's head! 

Those honours, which the invidious crowd disown 
While yet I live, shall doubly grace me dead. 

Whate'er the silent tomb has veiled in shade 
Shines more august through venerable fame; 

Time has the merits of the dead displayed. 
And rescued from the dust a glorious name. 


Who, else, would know, that e'er Troy-towers had bowed 
To the pine-steed? that e'er Achilles strove 

With grappling rivers? that round Ida flowed 
The stream of Simois, cradling infant Jove? 

If Hector's blood dyed thrice the wheel-tracked plain? 

Polydamas, Deiphobus, once fell, 
Or Helenus was numbered with the slain? 

Scarce his own soil could of her Paris tell. 

Shrunk were thy record, Troy! whose captured wall 
Felt twice the ^t^ean God's resistless rage: 

Nor he, the bard that registered thy fall. 
Had left his growing song to every age. 

Me too shall Rome, among her last, revere ; 

But that far day shall on my ashes rise ; 
No stone a worthless sepulchre shall rear. 

The mean memorial where a poet lies. 

So may the Lycian God my vows approve ! 

Now let my verse its wonted sphere regain; 
That, touched with sympathies of joy and love. 

The melting nymph may listen to my strain. 

'Tis sung that Orpheus, with his Thraclan tones, 
Stayed the wild herd, and stayed the troubled flood ; 

Moved by Amphion's lute Cyth^eron's stones 
Leaped into form, and Thebes aspiring stood. 

Beneath rude Etna's crag, oh Polypheme! 

On the smooth deep, did Galatea rein 
Her horses, dropping with the briny stream, 

And wind their course to catch thy floating strain. 

Then, if the God of Verse, the God of wine. 
Look down propitious, and with smiles approve; 

What wonder, if the fair's applause be mine, 
If thronging virgins list the lays of love? 


Though no green marble, from Tsenarian mines, 
Swells in the columns that my roof uphold; 

No ceiling's arch with burnished ivory shines, 
And intersecting beams that blaze with gold; 

My orchards vie not with Phoeacian groves, 
• Through my carved grot no Marcian fountains play; 
iWith me the Muse in breathless dances roves ; 
Nymphs haunt my dwelling ; readers love my lay. 

Oh fortunate, fair maid! whoe'er thou art, 
That, in my gentle song, shall honoured be! 

This to each charm shall lasting bloom impart; 
Each tender verse a monument of thee! 

The sumptuous pyramids, that stately rise 
Among the stars, the Mausolean tomb, 

The Olympic fane, expanded like the skies — 
Not these can scape the irrevocable doom. 

The force of rushing rains, or wasting flame. 
The weight of years may bow their glories down; 

But Genius wins an undecaying name. 

Through ages strong, and deathless in renown. 


Methought I lay by Pegasus' fresh fount, 
On pleasant Helicon's umbrageous mount: 
The feats, oh Alba! of thy storied kings 
Already trembled on my murmuring strings: 
Venturous I stooped that mightier stream to sip, 
Whence father Ennius slaked his thirsty lip; 
The Curian and Horatian spears he sung ; 
The ^milian bark with regal trophies hung; 
Fabius' slow conquests ; Cannae's fatal plain ; 
And Heaven by pious offerings turned again : 
Rome's Gods that forth the Punic spoiler drove, 
And the shrill bird that saved the fane of Jove. 


When, from a laurel by Castalia's wave, 
Propt on his golden harp before a cave, 
Apollo saw : he fixed his glance, and cried, 
" What wouldst thou, madman! with so vast a tide? 
Who bade thee thus heroic numbers claim? 
Not hence, Propertius ! hope the wreath of fame. 
Rather with slender track thy chariot lead 
To print the verdure of the velvet mead: 
While careless on the couch thy page is thrown, 
Where she, that waits a lover, sighs alone. 
Why quit the ring that bounds thy lay's renown ; 
Or weigh the pinnace of thy genius down? 
One oar the sea and one the sand should sweep: 
Be safe, for stormiest rolls the midmost deep." 

Then with his ivory quill he showed a seat, 
And path of springing moss, by foot unbeat : 
Studding the grot, stones green with lichens clung ; 
And timbrels from the rock's worn vault were hung : 
Silenus old with clay- formed Muses stood ; 
And piping Pan from his Arcadian wood: 
My darling doves, light-hovering round their Queen, 
Dipped their red beaks in rills from Hippocrene. 
The sculptured Sisters, ranged on either side. 
In various tasks their yielding fingers pHed: 
This culls for Bacchic spears the ivy sprays ; 
That tunes the stringed lyre, and sets the lays : 
Another's hands the braided garland bind 
With roses, white and red, alternate twined. 
One, rising from the group, drew near to me. 
Her air, methought, bespoke Calliope: 

" Let snow-plumed swans for ever waft thy car : 
Nor steeds strong-thundering whirl thee to the war. 
Blow not the dismal trumpet's hoarse alarms. 
Nor stern beset the Aonian bowers with arms ; 
Bid not the Marian banners flout the sky ; 
From Rome's firm shock the broken Teutons fly ; 
Or barbarous Rhine along his wailing flood 
Roll heaps of Suevian slain, and blush with blood. 


Sing thou the lovers that, with garlands crowned, 
Another's doors with amorous siege surround ; 
Sing of the torches glaring through the night, 
And riot-ensigns of inebriate flight; 
To him the secrets of thy lore impart, 
Who aims to dupe a rigid keeper's art ; 
And teach him, by the magic of a lay, 
Through bars and bolts to lure the nymph away." 
She said: and on my brow the waters threw. 
Drawn from the fountain, whence Philetas drew. 


Love is the God of peace : we lovers know 

But love's hard combats, and a mistress- foe: 

Not gold's devouring want my soul has curst ; 

Not from a jewelled cup I slake my thirst ; 

I plough not wide Campania's mellowed soil, 

Nor for thy brass in ships, oh Corinth ! toil : 

Ah ! hapless clay that erst Prometheus pressed, 

Moulding a rash and unforeseeing breast : 

The skill, that knit the frame, o'erlooked the heart : 

An upright reasoning soul escaped his art. 

Now tost by winds we roam the troubled flood. 

Link foe to foe, and restless pant for blood. 

Fool ! not on Acheron thy wealth shall float, 

All naked drifting in the infernal boat. 

The conqueror with the captive skims the tide. 

And chained Jugurtha sits at Marius' side : 

Robed Crsesus shares the tattered Irus' doom, 

And owns that death the best, which soon shall come. 

Me in youth's flower could Helicon entrance, 

My hands with Muses linked in mazy dance: 

Me has it charmed to bathe my soul in wine. 

And vernal roses round my temples twine : 

When irksome age hath stolen on loves delight. 

And strewn my sable locks with sprinkled white: 

Then may it please to search in Nature's ways. 

And learn what God the world's vast fabric sways; 


How dawns the rising east and fades again; 

How the round moon repairs her crescent wane ; 

How winds the salt sea sweep, and the eastern blast 

The billows warps, and clouds their ceaseless waters cast. 

Whether a day shall come, when headlong hurled 

Shall fall the tottering pillars of the world; 

Why drinks the purpling bow the rainy cloud ; 

Why Pindus' summits reel in earthquake bowed ; 

Why shines the sun's wheeled orb with umbered light. 

His golden coursers palled in morning night; 

Why turns Bootes slow his starry wain. 

Why sparkling throng the Pleiads' clustered train; 

Why bounded roll the deepening ocean's tides ; 

Why the full year in parted seasons glides; 

If under earth Gods judge, and giants rave; 

Tisiphone's fierce ringlets snaky wave; 

Furies Alcmaeon scourge, and Phinaes hungering crave 

Thirst burn in streams, wheels whirl, rocks backward leap, 

Or hell's dark mouth three-headed Cerberus keep: 

If Tityos' straitened limbs nine acres press; 

Or fables mock man's credulous wretchedness 

Through long tradition's age: nor terror's strife 

Survive the pyre: — be such my close of life. 

Go ye who list, the Parthian overcome. 

Bring Crassus' wrested standards back to Rome. 


I MARVELLED what the smiling Muses led. 

While blushed the rising sun, beside my bed. 

My fair one's birth-day shone ; and, standing round, 

Thrice with clapped hands they gave the signal sound. 

May this day cloudless pass, winds breathe no more ; 

And raging waves roll smoothly to the shore. 

Let no sad looks on this blest day appear: 

Ev'n Niobe suppress the marble tear: 

The Halcyon's bills lay now their moans aside, 

Nor on her son devoured let Progne chide. 

XI— 18 


And, dear-one ! thou, in light-winged moments born. 

Rise, pray the Heavens for blessings on thy morn. 

Disperse the dews of sleep with waters fair. 

With parting fingers sleek thy glossy hair; 

The robe, that first allured Propertius' eyes, 

Assume, nor for thy brow the flower despise. 

Pray that those powerful beauties ne'er may fade, 

And still my neck may bow, by Cynthia swayed. 

When smoke of purifying incense streams 

From the wreathed altar, and its broadening gleams 

Fill all the gilt saloon with happy light, 

Arrange the board; let goblets speed the night. 

From box of yellow agate sweet dispense 

The liquid nard moist breathing on the sense : 

Let the sighed flute sob hoarse in midnight dance ; 

Thy wit in libertine gay sallies glance; 

From jocund feast unwelcome sleep retreat. 

And ringing echo din the neighbouring street. 

Let the dice rattle and the throw denote 

Whom that winged boy with heaviest pinions smote 

When many an hour has flowed in bumpers by. 

Let Venus lend her nightly ministry : 

Let us the yearly solemn love-rites pay, 

And crown the pleasures of thy natal day. 





[books I TO IV inclusive] 








By the Rev. Alfred Church, M.A. 
Early Life 

Ovid, like Horace, is his own biographer. In some 
respects he is even more communicative than his fellow-poet. 
Horace, for instance, is reticent, as a rule, about his own 
compositions. The writer of the Odes might, for all we 
know, be a different man from the author of the Satires 
or the author of the Epistles. Ovid, on the contrary, takes 
good care that his readers should be well acquainted with 
the list of his works. And he also gives us the most copious 
and exact information about his birthplace, his family, his ed- 
ucation, his marriage, his fortunes in general. Yet, for all 
this, the personality of the man himself seems to elude us. 
The real Ovid is almost as unknown to us as is the real Virgil. 

PuBLius OviDius Naso was born at Sulmo, a town in 
Peligni, a district of Northern Italy which took its name from 
one of the Samnite tribes. The poet speaks more than once of 
the fertility and healthfulness of his native district. These 
blessings it chiefly owed to its copious and unfailing streams. 
Its pastures never dried up, even under the scorching suns of 
an Italian summer. Its water-meadows are especially men- 
tioned. It produced wheat in abundance ; and its light fine 
soil was even better adapted for the vine and the olive. 

The town of Sulmo boasted a high antiquity. It took the 
side af the vanquished party in the struggle between Marius 
and Sulla, and suffered cruelly in consequence. More fortu- 
nate in the next civil war, it opened its gates to Julius Caesar. 
Ovid (he always called himself Naso) belonged to one of the 
oldest families in this town. It was of equestrian or knightly 



rank, and had possessed this distinction for many generations. 
" In my family," he says, " you will find knights up through 
an endless line of ancestry;" and he looks down, just as 
among ourselves a baronet looks down on a knight, on men 
who had won that honour for themselves. 

I never climbed, not I, from step to step. 
And he complains loudly to the faithless Corinna — 

Some knight, with wealth by wounds but newly earned, 
Full-fed on slaughter, is preferred to -me! 

The poet was born on March the 20th, 43 B.C. He marks the 
year by speaking of it as that 

In which both consuls met an equal fate. 

These consuls were Hirtius and Pansa, both of whom perished 
at the siege of Mutina, fighting against Mark Antony. The 
Roman Republic virtually perished with them, though we 
may be sure that had they lived they could not have prolonged 
its existence. 

Ovid had a brother who was his elder by exactly a year — 

A double birthday-offering kept the day. 

The brothers were carefully educated, and were sent at an 
early age to the best teachers in Rome. Their father intended 
that both should follow the profession of an advocate. The 
intention suited the inclinations of the elder; the heart of the 
youngest was otherwise inclined. He wrote verses "by 
stealth." Ovid's father was contemptuous of the unprofitable 
pursuit, and, moved by the paternal admonitions — admoni- 
tions which indeed there were obvious ways of enforcing — the 
young poet applied himself seriously to the business of learn- 
ing his profession. 

The best known of those who have been mentioned as his 
teachers were Porcius Latro, by birth a Spaniard, who had 
migrated to Rome under the patronage of Augustus, and Arel- 


litis Fuscus, a rival professor of the rhetorical art. It was 
Latro's practice to teach his pupils by declaiming before them ; 
Fuscus, with what we may conjecture to have been a more 
effective method, made the youths themselves declaim. The 
Elder Seneca speaks of having heard Ovid perform such an 
exercise before Fuscus. "His speech," he says, "could not 
then be called anything else than poetry out of metre." But 
he adds that the poet had while a student a high reputation as 
a declaimer; and he speaks strongly in praise of the particu- 
lar discourse which he had himself happened to hear, de- 
scribing it as one of marked ability, though somewhat want- 
ing in order. The poetical character of the young student's 
oratory — a character quite out of keeping, it should be re- 
marked, with the genius of Latin eloquence — exactly suits 
what Ovid says of himself — 

Whate'er I sought to say was still in verse; 

which may be paraphrased by Pope's famous line — 

I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came. 

Seneca further tells us that he had a special fondness for 
dealing with moral themes, and he gives some interesting in- 
stances of expressions in the poems which were borrowed 
from the declamations of his master, Latro. 

The brothers assumed, in due time, the toga, or distin- 
guishing dress of manhood. This robe, as sons of a knight of 
ancient family, and aspirants, it was presumed, to public life, 
they were permitted to w^ear w4th the broad edge of purple 
which distinguished the senator. The elder brother died im- 
mediately after completing his twentieth year, and this event 
removed the objection which the father had made to the in- 
dulgence of Ovid's poetical tastes. The family property, 
which was not of more than moderate extent, would not have 
to be divided, and there was no longer any necessity why the 
only son should follow a lucrative profession. 

About this time we may place Ovid's visit to Athens. A 
single line contains all the mention that he makes of it, but 


this informs us that he went there for purposes of study. Pos- 
sibly his stay at Athens was followed or interrupted by a tour 
which he made in company with the poet Macer, the younger 
of that name, whose friendship he retained until the end of his 
life. This tour included the famous Greek cities of western 
Asia Minor. It was probably on this journey that Ovid vis- 
ited the site of Troy. From Asia Minor they passed to Sicily, 
where they spent the greater part of a year ; — a happy time, to 
which Ovid, addressing his old companions, in one of the let- 
ters of his exile, turns with pathetic regret. 

Returning to the capital, he did not at once give up the 
prospect of a public career. On the contrary, he sought some 
of the minor offices in which the aspirant for promotion com- 
monly began his course. We find him filling a post which 
seems singularly incongruous with his tastes and pursuits. He 
was made one of the Trhiniviri Capitales, officials who com- 
bined, to a certain degree, the duties of our police magistrates 
and under-sheriffs. They took the preliminary examination in 
cases of serious crimes, exercised a summary jurisdiction, both 
civil and criminal, in causes where slaves, or other persons not 
citizens, were concerned, inspected prisons, and superintended 
the execution of criminals. He also afterwards became a 
member of the " Court of the Hundred," which had an ex- 
tensive and important jurisdiction in both civil and criminal 
matters. In this he was promoted to be one of the ten su- 
perintendents {decemviri) who formed the council of the pre- 
siding judge. He seems also to have occasionally acted as an 
arbitrator or referee. The profession of an advocate he never 

Ovid was now one of the "Twenty" who were regarded 
as candidates for the higher offices in the state, and for seats 
in the senate, and who enjoyed the distinction of sitting 
among senators in the orchestra seats of the circus and the 
amphitheatre. ]\Iembers of the " Twenty," on attaining their 
twenty-fourth year, became eligible for the qusetorship, an 
office connected with the revenue — the lowest in grade of the 
magistracies, properly so called, but giving a seat in the sen- 
ate, Ovid declined to become a candidate for the office. He 
exchanged the broad purple stripe which he had worn as a 


possible senator, for the narrower stripe which belonged to 
his hereditary rank as a knight. We must now regard him as 
a private gentleman of Rome, well-born, and of respectable 
but not ample means. His parents were still living, and he 
hints in one place that he had to content himself with a mod- 
erate allowance. 

Very early in life, when, as he says himself, he was "al- 
most a boy," Ovid was married to a wife probably chosen for 
him by his father. The match, he gives us to understand, 
brought him neither honour nor profit. Probably her con- 
duct was not without reproach, and her fortune did not an- 
swer his expectations. She was speedily divorced. Another 
wife was soon found by him or for him. All that we know 
of her is, that she was a native of the Etrurian town of Fa- 
lisci. He confesses that he had no fault to find with her; but 
the second marriage was, nevertheless, of as short duration as 
the first. It is easy to gather the cause from the poet's own 
confessions about himself. 

The literary society of which the young poet now found 
himself a recognised member, was perhaps the most brilliant 
which has ever been collected in one place. The Athens of 
Pericles in one print surpassed it in the magnitude of individ- 
ual genius. But in extent, variety of literary power, the 
Rome of Augustus stands pre-eminent in the history of letters. 
Virgil, Livy, Horace, Sallust, the greatest of the names which 
adorned the so-called " Augustan " age, had grown to man- 
hood while the Republic still stood ; Ovid, who may be said to 
close the period, was, as we have seen, born on the last day of 
Roman freedom. But, indeed, the best days of the Augustan 
age had almost passed when Ovid became a member of the 
literary society of the capital. Maecenas, who made the im- 
perial court the abode of letters, no longer shared, or indeed 
could have desired to share — so bitter was the wrong which 
he had suffered from his master — the emperor's friendship. 
Though still nominally a Councillor of State, he had actually 
retired into private life. Ovid never mentions his name. Nor 
was the young poet ever admitted to the intimacy of Augus- 
tus, whose court probably somewhat changed its tone after 
the retirement of the great literary minister. 


For the older poets, whom he was privileged to see or 
know, Ovid describes himself as having felt an unbounded 
veneration : — 

In every bard I saw a form divine. 

"Virgil I did but see" (a phrase which has become almost 
proverbiaP), he says, in his interesting account of his poeti- 
cal acquaintance and friends. Virgil's habits — for he loved 
the country as truly as did Horace — and the feebleness of his 
health, seem to have made him a stranger at Rome during the 
latter years of his life. 

Another great contemporary Ovid mentions in these 
words — 

The tuneful Horace held our ears enchained. 

" Tuneful," indeed, is a vv'ord which but feebly expresses the 
original epithet (numerosus). "That master of melody" is 
a more adequate rendering, and it is fit praise for one who 
had no predecessor or successor among his countrymen in his 
power of versification. There is nothing to indicate the exist- 
ence of any friendship between the two poets. Horace was 
by more than twenty years the elder, and was beginning to 
weary of the life of pleasure upon which the younger man was 
just entering. 

Not a single line has been preserved of three other of the 
poets whom Ovid regarded with such reverence. Ponticus — 

For epic song renowned — 

wrote a poem in heroic — i.e., hexameter — verse on the war of 
the " Seven against Thebes." Time has been peculiarly cruel 
to the world in not suffering it to survive, if we are to trust 
Propertius, who affirms, " as he hopes to be happy," that 
Ponticus was a match for Homer himself. Of Bassus we 
absolutely know nothing but what Ovid tells us, that he was 
famous for his dramatic verse, ^milius Macer, of Verona, 
a fellow-countryman, and, as Ovid expressly mentions that he 
was much his own junior, probably a contemporary of Catul- 

^ " Virgilium tantum vidi." 


lus, wrote poems, doubtless modelled after Greek originals, 
on birds, and noxious serpents, and the healing qualities of 
herbs. Another ]\Iacer, who has been mentioned already as 
Ovid's companion in travel, wrote about the Trojan war. Of 
DoMiTius Marsus, an elegiac poet, time has spared a beauti- 
ful epigram commemorating the death of Tibullus. It would 
be easy to prolong the list. In the last of his " Letters from 
the Pontus," Ovid names, each with a phrase descriptive of 
his genius or his work, the poets contemporary with himself. 
There are about thirty of them. Of some we do not know 
even the names, the poet having thought it sufficient to men- 
tion or allude to their principal works. Many of these who 
are named we do not find mentioned elsewhere, and Ovid's 
brief phrase is all that is left of them. The works of all have 
either perished altogether or survive in insignificant frag- 
ments,^ Burmann, the most learned of Ovid's editors, says 
of Maximus Cotta, the last on the list, — " Him and Capella 
and others oblivion has overwhelmed with Inexorable night. 
Would that these poets, or, at least, the best part of them, 
had come down to us, and other foolish and useless books had 
remained sunk In eternal darkness ! " 

Happily for us, a kinder fate has spared the works of twQ 
out of the three poets whom Ovid has named as his predeces- 
sors and teachers In his own peculiar art of amatory verse. 
" He," says the poet, speaking of the untimely death of Tibul- 
lus, " was thy successor, Gallus ; Propertlus was his ; I was my- 
self the fourth In the order of time." The same collocation of 
names is repeated more than once, and never without expres- 
sions that Indicate the pride which Ovid felt in being associ- 
ated with men of such genius. 

One reflection strikes us forcibly as we compare Ovid with 
his predecessors and contemporaries — a reflection which, 
whatever the qualities In which they may be allowed to have 
excelled him, explains and justifies the higher rank which he 
has received In the judgment of posterity. He was cast, so 

1 The reader will be glad to see a noble utterance that has been 
preserved of one of their number: "All that I once have given still 
is mine " (Hoc habeo quodcunque dedi) . 


to speak, in a large mould, and made of stronger stuff. Noth- 
ing is more significant of this than the very superiority of his 
physical constitution. They almost without exception (we are 
not speaking now of Horace and Virgil) passed away in the 
very prime of their youth. The fiery passion which shines 
through their verse, and which often gives it a more genuine 
ring than we find in Ovid's smoother song, consumed them. 
Ovid was more master of himself. Nor was his intellectual 
life limited to the expression of passion. His mind was braced 
by the severe studies that produced the " Transmutations " 
and the " Roman Calendar." With this stronger, more prac- 
tical, more varied intellect went along the more enduring 
physical frame. He had nearly reached his sixtieth year be- 
fore he succumbed to the miseries and privations of a pro- 
tracted exile. And sixty years of Roman life correspond, it 
must be remembered, to at least seventy among those who, 
like ourselves, date the beginning of manhood not from six- 
teen, but only nominally even from twenty-one. We may per- 
haps find a parallel, at least partially appropriate, in the con- 
trast between Shakespeare and his more sturdy and healthful 
soul and frame, and his short-lived predecessors in the dra- 
matic art, Marlowe and Greene, men of genius both, but con- 
sumed, as it were, by the fire with which he was inspired. 

The Love-Poems 

Under this title are included four productions which — to 
speak of those works alone which have come down to us — 
formed the literary occupation of Ovid from his twentieth to 
his forty-second year. These four are "The Epistles of the 
Heroines," "The Loves," "The Art of Love," and "Reme- 
dies for Love." It is in the second of these, doubtless, that 
we have the earliest of the poet's productions that survive. 
He tells us that he recited his juvenile poems to a public audi- 
ence, for the first time, when his beard had been twice or 
thrice shaved. He also tells us that of these poems Corinna 
had been the inspiring subject. 

"The Epistles of the Heroines" consists of twenty-one 
letters, supposed to have been written by women famous in 


legend, to absent husbands or lovers, Penelope, the faithful 
wife, whom the twenty years' absence of her lord has not been 
able to estrange, writes to the wandering Ulysses; Phyllis, 
daughter of the Thracian king Sithon, complains of the long 
delay of her Athenian lover, Demophoon, in the land whither 
he had gone to prepare, as he said, for their marriage ; the de- 
serted Ariadne sends her reproaches after Theseus; Medea, 
with mingled threats and entreaties, seeks to turn Jason from 
the new marriage which he is contemplating; and Dido, a fig- 
ure which Ovid has borrowed from the beautiful episode of 
the " ^neid," alternately appeals to the pity and denounces 
the perfidy of her Trojan lover. 

There is a wearying monotony of subject-matter in the 
Epistles. The names are different, the circumstances are 
changed according as the several stories demand, but the 
theme is ever the same — love, now angry and full of re- 
proaches, now tender and condescending to entreaty. But, on 
the other hand, though the theme is the same, the variety of 
expression is endless. The skill with which Ovid continues, 
again and again, to say the same thing without repeating him- 
self, is astonishing. In this respect no poet has ever shown 
himself more thoroughly a master of his art. Feeling, too, 
real though not elevated, often makes itself felt in the midst 
of the artificial sentiment; if the style is disfigured with con- 
ceits, it is always exquisitely polished ; the language is uni- 
versally easy and transparent, and the verse an unbroken flow 
of exquisite melody. 

The most celebrated of the Epistles is the letter of Sappho, 
the famous poetess of Lesbos, to Phaon, a beautiful youth 
who had betrayed her love. It has been admirably translated 
by Pope, whose polished antithetical style is as suitable, it 
should be said, to the artificial and rhetorical verse of Ovid, 
as it is incongruous with the simple grandeur of Homer. It 
is thus that he renders the passage in which Sappho announces 
her intention to try the famous remedy for hopeless love, the 
leap from the Leucadian rock : — 

A spring there is, where silver waters show, 
Clear as a glass, the shining sands below; 


A flowery lotus spreads its arms above. 
Shades all the banks, and seems itself a grove: 
Eternal greens the mossy margin grace, 
Watched by the sylvan genius of the place. 
Here as I lay, and swelled with tears the flood, 
Before my sight a watery virgin stood: 
She stood and cried, " Oh, you that love in vain, 
Fly hence, and seek the fair Leucadian main ! 
There stands a rock, from whose impending steep 
Apollo's fane surveys the rolling deep; 
There injured lovers, leaping from above. 
Their flames extinguish and forget to love. 
Deucalion once with hopeless fury burned, 
In vain he loved, relentless Pyrrha scorned: 
But when from hence he plunged into the main, 
Deucalion scorned and Pyrrha loved in vain. 
Hence, Sappho, haste ! from high Leucadia throw 
Thy wretched weight, nor dread the deeps below." 
She spoke, and vanished with the voice — I rise. 
And silent tears fall trickling from my eyes. 
I go, ye nymphs, those rocks and seas to prove: 
And much I fear ; but ah ! how much I love ! 
I go, ye nymphs, where furious love inspires; 
Let female fears submit to female fires. 
To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon's hate. 
And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate. 
Ye gentle gales, belov/ my body blow, 
And softly lay me on the waves below ! 
And then, kind Love, my sinking limbs sustain, 
Spread thy soft wings, and waft me o'er the main, 
Nor let a lover's death the guiltless flood profane ! 
On Phoebus' shrine my harp I'll then bestow. 
And this inscription shall be placed below — 
" Here she who sung to him that did inspire, 
Sappho to Phoebus consecrates her lyre; 
What suits with Sappho, Phoebus, suits with thee — 
The gift, the giver, and the god agree ! " ^ 

We have " The Loves," in a second edition. " Five books," 
says the poet in his prefatory quatrain, " have been reduced 

^ This, and the following incidental translations, except where ac- 
credited to others writers, are by Henry King. 


to three." " Though you find no pleasure in reading us," tlie 
volumes are made to say to the reader, "we shall at least, 
when thus diminished by two, vex you less." 

A question immediately presents itself, Who was the Cor- 
inna whom Ovid celebrates in these poems? It has often been 
argued, and that by critics of no small authority, that she was 
no less famous a personage than Julia, daughter of the Em- 
peror Augustus by his first wife Scribonia. Of Julia the 
briefest account will be the best. She was wife successively 
of Marcus Marcellus, nephew to Augustus ; of jMarcus Vipsa- 
nius Agrippa; and of Tiberius, afterwards emperor. This 
last union was most unhappy, Tiberius had been compelled 
to divorce a wife whom he dearly loved, and he found himself 
bound to a woman whose profligacy was conspicuous even in 
a profligate age. After a short union he retired into a volun- 
tary exile ; and Augustus then became aware of what all Rome 
had long known, that his daughter was an abandoned woman. 
He banished her from Italy, and kept her in a rigorous im- 
prisonment, which was never relaxed till her death. There is 
nothing, therefore, in the character of Julia that is inconsist- 
ent with her being the Corinna of Ovid's poems. References 
in them indicate that she was a lady of wealth and high social 
position. That she was married the poet expressly states. AVid 
a curious coincidence has been pointed out which, though it 
does not go very far, may be allowed to make for the identi- 
fication with Julia. This princess had lost much of her hair 
through the unsparing use of dyes. And we find Ovid re- 
monstrating with Corinna on. her folly in producing in the 
same way the same disfigurement. 

Of the subject-matter of "The Loves" there is little to be 
said. The passion which inspires the verse is coarser and 
more brutal than that of his rival poets, even when this shows 
itself in its worst phases. It has nothing of the fervour of 
Propertius, the tenderness of Tibullus. It does not spring 
from any depth of feeling. It is real, but its reality is of 
the basest, most literal sort. That he describes an actual 
amour is only too manifest, but that this was in any true sense 
of the words "an affair of the heart" may well be doubted. 
But then, again, he shows an incomparable skill in expres- 


sion; he invests even the lowest things with a certain grace. 
His wit and fancy " sparkle on the stye." If he lets us get 
away for a moment from the mire — if, with the delicate fancy 
that never fails him, he tells us some legend that " boys and 
virgins " need not blush to read — he is charming. There 
never was a more subtle and ingenious master of language, 
and it is a grievous pity that he should so often have used it 
so ill. Our specimen of his " Loves " must be taken from 
the episodes rather than from the ordinary course of the 
poems. The following poem, however, will not offend. 

It has been elegantly paraphrased and adapted to modern 
manners by Mr. A. A. Brodribb. It will remind the reader of 
a pretty passage in Mr. Tennyson's " Miller's Daughter : " — 

The Ring 
Sign of my too presumptuous flame, 

To fairest Celia haste, nor linger, 
And may she gladly breathe my name. 

And gaily put thee on her finger ! 

Suit her as I myself, that she 
May fondle thee with murmured blessing; 

Caressed by Celia ! Who could be 
Unenvious of such sweet caressing? 

Had I Nedea's magic art, 

Or Proteus' power of transformation, 
Then would I blithely play thy part. 

The happiest trinket in creation ! 

Oh ! on her bosom I would fall, 

Her finger guiding all too lightly; 
Or else be magically small, 

Fearing to be discarded nightly. 

And I her ruby lips would kiss 

(What mortal's fortune could be better?) 

As oft allowed to seal my bliss 
As she desires to seal a letter. 

Now go, these are delusions bright 

Of idle Fancy's idlest scheming; 
Tell her to read the token right — 

Tell her how sweet is true love's dreaming. 


The book also contains an elegy upon the death of Tibul- 
lus, which will be found in the introduction to that poet. 

Of the "Art of Love" the less, perhaps, that is said the 
better. The poet himself warns respectable persons to have 
nothing to do with his pages, and the warning is amply jus- 
tified by their contents. It has, however, some of the bril- 
liant episodes which Ovid introduces with such effect. His 
own taste, and the taste, we may hope, of his readers, de- 
manded that the base level of sensuality should sometimes be 
left for a higher flight of fancy. The description of Ariadne 
in Naxos is as brilliant as Titian's picture; equally vivid is 
the story of the flight of D^dalus and his son Icarus on the 
wings which the matchless craftsman had made, and of the 
fate which followed the over-daring flight of the youth 
through regions too near to the sun. Then, again, we find 
ever and anon pictures of Roman manners which may amuse 
without oft'ence. Among such are Ovid's instructions to his 
fair readers how they may most becomingly take their part 
in the games of chance and skill which were popular in the 
polite circles of Rome. Ovid, after recommending his read- 
ers to practise a graceful playing at the games, wisely 
warns them that it is still more important that they should 
learn to keep their temper. The suitor he advises to allow his 
fair antagonist to win. Equally familiar will be the device 
of a present of fruit brought by a slave-boy in a rustic basket, 
which the lover will declare has been conveyed from a country 
garden, though he will probably have bought it in the neigh- 
bouring street. A certain sagacity must be allowed to the 
counsel that the lover, when his lady is sick, must not take 
upon himself the odious office of forbidding her a favourite 
dish; and will, if possible, hand over to a rival the office, 
equally odious, of administering a nauseous medicine. The 
recommendation not to be too particular in inquiring about 
age is equally sagacious. It is curious to observe that Lord 
Byron's expressed aversion to seeing women eat was not un- 
known to the Roman youth. 

The "Remedies of Love" may be dismissed with a still 
briefer notice. Like the " Art of Love," it is relieved by some 
beautiful digressions. When it keeps close to its subject, it 

XI— 19 


is, to say the least, not edifying. The "Remedies," indeed, 
are for the most part as bad as the disease, though we must 
except that most respectable maxim that " idleness is the 
parent of love," with the poet's practical application of it. 
One specimen of these two books shall suffice. It is of the 
episodical kind, — a brilliant panegyric on the young Caesar, 
Caius, son of Augustus's daughter Julia, who was then pre- 
paring to take the command of an expedition against the 
Parthians. Gross as is the flattery, it is perhaps less offen- 
sive than usual. The young Caius died before his abilities 
could be proved ; but the precocious genius of the family was 
a fact. Caius was then of the very same age at which his 
grandfather had first commanded an army. 

Once more our Prince prepares to make us glad. 
And the remaining East to Rome will add. 
Rejoice, ye Roman soldiers, in your urn; 
Your ensigns from the Parthians shall return; 
And the slain Crassi shall no longer mourn ! 
A youth is sent those trophies to demand, 
And bears his father's thunder in his hand: 
Doubt not th' imperial boy in wars unseen; 
In childhood all of Caesar's race are men. 
Celestial seeds shoot out before their day. 
Prevent their years, and brook no dull delay. 
Thus infant Hercules the snakes did press, 
And in his cradle did his sire confess. 
Bacchus, a boy, yet like a hero fought. 
And early spoils from conquered India brought. 
Thus you your father's troops shall lead to fight, 
And thus shall vanquish in your father's sight. 
These rudiments you to your lineage owe; 
Born to increase your titles as you grow. 
Brethren you lead, avenge your brethren slain; 
You have a father, and his right maintain. 
Armed by your country's parent and your own, 
Redeem your country and restore his throne. 

— Translated by Dryden. 

Domestic Life 
About Ovid's private life between his twentieth and 
fiftieth years there is little to be recorded. He married for 


the third time. He had a daughter, probably by his second 
wife, although many commentators say it was by his third. 
This daughter had been twice married at the time of his 
banishment, when he was in his fifty-second year, and had 
borne a child to each husband. There is a letter addressed 
to one Perilla, written by Ovid in exile. Dr. Dyer, the 
learned author of the article " Ovidius " in the " Dictionary 
of Biography and Mythology," takes it for granted that this 
Perilla was Ovid's daughter, by his third wife, but the letter 
does not bear out the supposition, for, while the writer en- 
larges on the fact that he had instructed Perilla in the art 
of poetry, he does not say a word which indicates a closer 
relationship than that of master and pupil. 

The poet's third wife was a lady of good position at Rome, 
In early years she had been what may be called a lady-in- 
waiting to the aunt of Augustus. The union lasted till his 
death, with much mutual affection. When it has been added 
that Ovid's town mansion was close to the Capitol, and that 
he had a suburban residence, where he amused himself W'ith 
the pleasures of gardening, nothing remains to be told about 
this portion of his life. 


The cause of the banishment of Ovid, like the personality 
of the Man in the Iron Mask and the authorship of "Junius," 
is one of the unsolved problems of history. The facts 
absolutely known are very soon related. Ovid was in his 
fifty-second year. His fame as a poet was at its height. Any 
scandal that may have arisen from some of his publications 
had gradually passed away. Suddenly there fell on him "a 
bolt from the blue." A rescript in the emperor's hand was 
delivered to him, ordering him to leave Rome within a cer- 
tain time, and to repair to Tomi, a desolate settlement on the 
w'estern shore of the Black Sea, near the very outskirts of the 
empire. No decree of the senate had been passed to authorise 
the infliction of the banishment. It was simply an act of 
arbitrary power on the part of the emperor. The cause 
alleged was the publication of works corrupting to public 
morals, and the "Art of Love" was specified. The punish- 


ment was not of the severest kind. The place of exile, hate- 
ful as it was to the banished man, was at least preferable to 
that which many offenders had to endure — some desolate rock 
in the ^gean, where the victim was kept from starvation only 
by the charity of his friends. Ovid was also permitted to re- 
tain and enjoy his property. 

That the cause alleged was not the actual cause of the 
banishment may be considered certain. It is sufficient to say 
that the guilty work had been published at least ten years be- 
fore. The offence was such as to afford a pretext of the bar- 
est kind to an absolute ruler who felt the force of public 
opinion just enough to make him shrink from a wholly arbi- 
trary act, but was not careful to make any complete justifica- 
tion. But it did not, we may be sure, wholly sway his mind. 
We know, indeed, that there was another cause. To such a 
cause Ovid frequently alludes. And it is in this lies the 
mystery of the event. 

Augustus had felt the unutterable shame of discovering 
that his own daughter Julia was the most profligate woman 
in Rome. This unhappy woman had inherited the vicious 
propensities of her mother Scribonia. One of many lovers 
was Decius Julius Silanus, member of a family which had 
been distinguished in Rome since the second Punic war. The 
intrigue was too notorious to escape observation, and Livia 
had the opportunity which she desired. Julia was banished; 
her paramour went into voluntary exile. 

So far we are on firm historical ground. It may be added 
also, that the same year which saw the disgrace of Julia, wit- 
nessed also the banishment of Ovid. Were the two events 
in any way connected? 

Let us see what Ovid says on the subject : — 

"Two faults overthrew me — my verses and my wrongdoing; 
but about the guilt of one of them I must keep silence." 

" Because my eyes unknowingly beheld a crime, I am punished. 
To have had the power of sight — this is my sin." 

" I am not worth so much as to renew thy wound, O C?esar ; 
it is far too much that you should once have felt the pang." 

" You [Augustus] avenged on me, as is right, a quarrel of your 


That he became acquainted with some crime which touched 
nearly the honour of Augustus; that he concealed it; that in 
some sense he made himself an accomplice in it; that this 
crime was not an isolated act, but a line of conduct pursued 
for some time; that Ovid was afraid or thought it better not 
to reveal his knowledge of it, — are, it seems, inferences that 
may fairly be drawn from the language which he uses. They 
harmonise with the supposition that Ovid became involun- 
tarily acquainted with the intrigue of the younger Julia with 
Silanus, — that he helped to conceal it, possibly assisted in its 
being carried on. The emperor, for a second time, is struck 
to the heart by the discovery of the darkest profligacy in one 
very near to himself. In his capacity as ruler he is terrified 
by the corruption which his laws are powerless to stay. The 
poem.s which the severer moralists of his court had possibly 
criticised, come to his recollection, and he finds that the 
author has actually abetted the guilty intrigues of his grand- 
daughter. Accordingly he banished Ovid. 

Ovid's account of his leaving Rome is eminently graphic 
and not a little pathetic: 

When there starts up before me the sad, sad picture of that 
night which was the last of my life in Rome, when I remember 
the night on which I left so many of my treasures, even now the 
tear falls from my eyes. The day had almost come on which 
Caesar had bid me pass beyond the farthest limits of Italy. But I 
had not had the thought of preparation. Nay, the very time had 
been against me : so long the delay, that my heart had grown sloth- 
ful at the thought of it. I had taken no pains to select my slaves, 
or to choose a companion, or to procure the clothing or the money 
that a banished man required. I was as dazed as one who, struck 
by the bolts of Jupiter, lives, but is all unconscious of his life. 
But when my very grief had cleared away the mist from my soul, 
and I was at last myself again, I addressed for the last time ere 
my departure my sorrowing friends, — there were but one or two 
out of all the crowd. My loving wife clasped me close; bitter my 
tears, still bitterer hers, as they ever poured down her innocent cheeks. 
My daughter was far away on African shores, and could not have 
heard of her father's fate. Look where you would, there was wail- 
ing and groaning, and all the semblance of a funeral, clamorous in 
its grief. My funeral it was; husband and wife and the very slaves 


were mourners; every corner of my house was full of tears. Such 
— if one may use a great example for a little matter — such was the 
aspect of Troy in its hour of capture. 

And now the voices of men and dogs were growing still, and 
the moon was guiding high in heaven the steeds of night. As I 
regarded it, and saw in its light the two summits of the Capitol, — 
the Capitol that adjoined but did not protect my home, — "Powers," 
I cried, " who dwell in these neighbouring shrines, and temples that 
my eyes may never look upon again, and ye gods, dwelling in the 
lofty city of Romulus, gods whom now I must leave, take my fare- 
well for ever ! Too late, indeed, and already wounded, I snatch up 
the shield; yet acquit, I pray, my banishment of an odious crime; 
and tell the human denizen of heaven [Augustus] what was the 
error that deceived me, lest he think it a crime rather than a mis- 
take; tell it that the author of my punishment may see the truth 
which you know. My god once propitiated, I shall be wretched no 

These were the prayers that I addressed to heaven; my wife, 
with sobs that stopped her words half-way, spoke many more. She, 
too, before our home-gods threw herself with dishevelled hair, and 
touched with trembling lips our extinguished hearth. Many a 
prayer she poured out in vain to their hostile deity, words that 
might avail naught for the husband whom she mourned. 

And now night, hurrying down the steep, forbade further de- 
lay, and the Bear of Arcady had traversed half the sky. What 
could I do? Tender love for my country held me fast; but that 
night was the last before my doom of banishment. Ah ! how often 
would I say, when some one would bid me haste, "Why hurry me? 
think whither you would hasten my steps, and whither I must go ! " 
Ah ! how often did I pretend to have settled on some certain hour 
which would suit my purposed voyage ! Thrice I touched the 
threshold,^ thrice I was called back; my very feet, as if to indulge 
my heart, lingered on their way. Often, farewell once spoken, I 
said many a word; often, as if I was really departing, I bestowed 
my last kisses. Often I gave the same commands; I cheated my 
own self, as I looked on the pledges so dear to my eyes. And then, 
"Why do I hasten? It is Scythia to which I am being sent; it is 
Rome which I have to leave; both justify delay. My wife is re- 
fused to me for ever, and yet we both live; my family and the dear 

1 To touch the threshold with the foot in crossing it was considered 


member of that faithful family; yes, and you, my companions, whom 
I loved with a brother's love, hearts joined to mine with the loy- 
alty of a Theseus ! while I may, I embrace you ; perchance I may 
never do so again ; the hour that is allowed me is so much gain." 

It is the end: I leave my words unfinished, while I embrace in 
heart all that is dearest to me. While I speak, and we all weep, 
bright shining in the height of heaven, Lucifer, fatal star to us, 
had risen ; I am rent in twain, as much as if I were leaving my 
limbs behind ; one part of my very frame seemed to be torn from 
the other. Such was the agony of Mettus when he found the 
avengers of his treachery in the steeds driven opposite ways. Then 
rose on high the cries and the groanings of my household, then the 
hands of mourners beat uncovered breasts, and then my wife, cling- 
ing to my shoulder as I turned away, mingled with her tears these 
mournful words: "You cannot be torn from me; together, ah! 
together will we go. I will follow you; an exile myself, I will be 
an exile's wife. For me too is the journey settled; me too that 
distant land shall receive; 'tis but a small burden that will be added 
to the exile's bark. 'Tis the wrath of Cxsar that bids thee leave 
thy country — 'tis love that bids me; love shall be in Caesar's place." 
Such was her endeavour, — such had been her endeavour before; 
scarcely would she surrender, overpowered by expediency. 

I go forth; it was rather being carried forth without the fu- 
neral pomp; I go all haggard, with hair drooping over unshaven 
face; and she, they tell me, as in her grief for me the mist rose 
all before her, fell fainting in the midst of the dwelling; and when, 
her hair all smirched with the unseemly dust, she rose again, lift- 
ing her limbs from the cold ground, she bewailed now herself, now 
her deserted hearth, and called again and again the name of her 
lost husband, and groaned, not less than had she seen the high- 
built funeral pile claim her daughter's body or mine. Gladly would 
she have died, and lost all feeling in death; and yet she lost it not, 
out of thought for me. Long may she live; live, and ever help with 
her aid her absent — so the Fates will have it — her absent husband. 
— The " Sorrows," i. 3. 

It was in the month of December that the poet left Rome. 
One faithful friend, Fabius Maximus by name, accompanied 
him. Following the Appian road to Brundusiiim, then, as 
after many centuries it has become again, the usual route 
of western travellers bound eastward, he crossed the 
x\driatic. A fearful storm, not unusual at this season, en- 


countered him on his way; and the indefatigable poet describes 
it in his most elegant verse — too elegant, indeed, to allow us 
to suppose that it was written, as it claims to be, in the very 
midst of the peril. 

The tempest abated, and the poet reached his destination, 
Lechaeum, the eastern harbour of " Corinth on the two seas." 
Traversing the isthmus to the western port, Cenchrea, he em- 
barked again in a vessel which, he tells us, was called The 
Helmet, and bore on its deck an image of " Minerva of the 
Yellow Locks." It took him to Samothrace, whence Ovid 
took passage in a coasting vessel to the neighbouring shore of 
Thrace, and made the rest of his journey overland. 

Tomi, or, as Ovid himself calls it, Tomis, was a city of 
Greek origin (it was a colony of Miletus), situated on the 
western coast of the Black Sea, about two hundred miles to 
the north of Byzantium. The name may be rendered in Eng- 
lish by The Cuts. Possibly it was derived from a canal or 
fosse cut to the nearest point of the Danube, which here ap- 
proaches, just before making its last bend to the north, within 
the distance of fifty miles. The lively fancy of the poet 
found in the legend of Medea a more romantic origin. The 
wicked princess, who embodied the poet's conception of the 
wild unscrupulous passion of the oriental character, had re- 
sorted, when closely pursued in her flight, to a terrible ex- 
pedient. She slew her young brother Absyrtus, the darling 
of the angry father who was following her. His head she 
fixed on a prominent rock where it could not escape the notice 
of the pursuers. His limbs she scattered about the fields. She 
hoped, and not in vain, that the parent's head would bid him 
delay his voyage till he had collected the human remains. It 
was said that Tomi was the place where the deed was done, 
and that its name preserved the tradition of its horrible 

The town is now called Kostendje, a corruption of Con- 
stantina, a name which it received for the same reason 
which changed Byzantium into Constantinople. It was 
situated in the province of Lower Moesia. Though not 
exactly on the frontier, which was here, nominally at least, the 
Danube, it was practically an outpost of the empire. The 


plain between it and that river was open to the incursions of 
the unsubdued tribes from the further side of the Danube, 
who, when they had contrived to effect the passage of the 
river, found nothing to hinder them till they came to the walls 
of Tomi. 

Ovid describes the place of his exile in the gloomiest lan- 
guage. Such language, indeed, was natural in the mouth of a 
Roman. To him no charm of climate, no beauty of scenery, 
no interest of historical association, could make a place en- 
durable, while Rome, the one place in the world which was 
worth dwelling in, was forbidden to him. But Tomi, if its 
unfortunate inhabitant is to be believed, combined in itself 
every horror. It was in the near neighbourhood of savage 
and barbarous tribes. The climate was terrible ; the snow lay 
often unmelted for two years together. The north wind 
blew with such fury that it levelled buildings with the ground, 
or carried away their roofs. The natives went about clad in 
garments of skin, with their faces only exposed to the air. 
Their hair, their beards, were covered with icicles. The very 
wine froze : break the jar and it stood a solid lump ; men took 
not draughts but bites of it. The rivers were covered with 
ice; the Danube itself, though it was as broad as the Nile, 
was frozen from shore to shore, and became a highway for 
horses and men. The sea itself, incredible as it may seem, is 
frozen. " I," says the poet, " have myself walked on it. 

" Had such, Leander, been the sea 
That flowed betwixt thy love and thee. 
Never on Helles' narrow strait 
Had come the scandal of thy fate. 

" The dolphins cannot leap after their wont : let the north 
wind rage as it will, it raises no waves. The ships stand 
firmly fixed as in stone, and the oar cannot cleave the waters. 
You may see the very fish bound fast in the ice, imprisoned 
but still alive. But the worst of all the horrors of winter 
is the easy access which it gives to the barbarian foe. Their 
vast troops of cavalry, armed with the far-reaching bow, 
scour the whole country. The rustics fly for their lives, and 


leave their scanty provisions to be plundered. Some, more 
unlucky, are carried off into captivity; some perish by the 
arrows which this cruel enemy dips in poison. AInd all that 
the enemy cannot carry or drive off, he burns." 

It is difficult to suppose that some of these statements 
are not exaggerated. The climate of Bulgaria (the name 
which Lower Moesia has had since its invasion by the Bul- 
garians in the seventh century) bears little resemblance to 
that which Ovid describes. It has a temperature not unlike 
that of northern Spain, and its soil is described as fertile, 
the vine being one of its chief products. It is quite possible 
that the climate may have materially changed since Ovid's 
time. On more than one occasion the classical poets speak 
of severities of cold such as are not now experienced in Italy 
and Greece. If we allow something for such change, and 
something also for the exaggeration which not only expressed 
a genuine feeling of disgust, but might possibly have the effect 
of moving compassion, we shall probably be right. 

Ovid's life in exile lasted about eight years. He left 
Rome in the month of December following his fifty-first 
birthday; he died some time before the beginning of the 
September after his fifty-ninth. 

The Metamorphoses, or Transformations 

Ovid tells us that before he was banished he had written, 
but not corrected, the fifteen books of the " Metamorphoses," 
and had also composed twelve books (only six have been 
preserved) of the "Fasti" or Roman Calendar. The former 
he revised, the latter he greatly amplified in his exile. 

In the " Metamorphoses " we have the largest and most 
important of Ovid's works; and, if we view it as a whole, the 
greatest monument of his poetical genius. The plan of the 
book is to collect together, out of the vast mass of Greek 
mythology and legend, the various stories which turn on the 
change of men and women from the human form into ani- 
mals, plants, or inanimate objects. Nor are the tales merely 
collected. Such a collection would have been inevitably 
monotonous and tiresome. With consummate skill the poet 


arranges and connects them together. The thread of connec- 
tion is often indeed shght; sometimes it is broken akogether. 
But it is sufficiently continuous to keep ahve the reader's in- 
terest; which is, indeed, often excited by the remarkable in- 
genuity of the transition from one tale to another. But it 
did not escape the author's perception, that to repeat over and 
over again the story of a marvel which must have been as in- 
credible to his own contemporaries as it is to us, would have 
been to insure failure. Hence the metamorphoses themselves 
occupy but a small part of the book, which finds its real charm 
and beauty in the brilliant episodes, for the introduction of 
which they supply the occasion. 

[Four books of the Metamorphoses are given in the trans- 
lation following this introduction. Books five to eleven 
inclusive treat largely of the adventures of heroes and demi- 
gods, such as Perseus, Jason, Hercules, Minos, and Theseus, 
and of episodes, such as the Brand of Meleager, Philemon 
and Baucis, Orpheus and Eurydice, Pygmalion and Galatea, 
Venus and Adonis, and Ceyx and Halcyone, as well as va- 
rious transmutations. Ceyx and Halcyone is one of the most 
representative tales of Ovid, because of his transfusion of so 
much of Roman spirit and feeling into the Greek original. 
The essential portion of the story is here presented in the 
translation of the editor of the present work.] 


[OVID, METAMM. XI., 65O-748] 

Ceyx, the King of Trachyn, has been drowned at sea. Mor- 
pheus, the God of Dreams, assumes his form, and sets out to apprise 
his wife Halcyone, in a vision, of her husband's death. 

So Morpheus, spreading his silent wings, 
Forthwith into the gulf of aether flings, 
And, through the midnight softly gliding down. 
Comes very shortly to far Trachyn town 
Within the land Hsemonian.^ Laying by 
Its mighty wings, his body wondrously 

^H^emonia was an ancient name for Thessaly. 


Takes on the shape of Ceyx. Vestureless 

And wan and bloodless in his nakedness, 

He stands beside her couch, unhappy one, 

Who was the wife of Ceyx. Thickly run 

The oozy drops down matted beard and hair. 

Soon whelmed with sudden tears, as leaning there 

Above her couch, " O poor, poor wife," he cries ; 

"Dost thou not know thy lord? Dear, startled eyes. 

Hath death so changed me? Look, be not afraid, 

And for thy husband, see thy husband's shade ! " 

Naught have availed thy prayers, Halcyone, 

Hope not that I shall e'er return to thee. 

I perished in the mid ^gean; fast 

Driving his rack of storm-clouds, Auster's blast 

Dashed all in pieces our devoted boat; 

Thy name I strove to call, but in my throat 

Wave-choked, the utterance died. Believe me, dear, 

This is no empty rumor thou dost hear. 

Nor doth a lying courier tell it thee. 

But thine own Ceyx, shipwreck of the sea. 

Arise to tears and weeds of them that mourn 

And save my ghost from Tartarus' dim bourn." 

Spake thus in Ceyx' voice the God of Dreams; 

Shedding true tears, her husband's self he seems 

In every well-known gesture. Bound in sleep, 

Halcyone can only moan, and weep. 

And grasp with slumber-heavy arms to stay 

The airy vision. "Husband, where away? 

We twain will go together." In affright. 

By her own voice awakened, and the sight 

Of her dead lord, from sleep she struggles free 

And gazes round the woful Shape to see 

(For the roused slaves had hurried in with lights) ; 

And when she finds him not, her face she smites 

And strips the garments from her bosom bare. 

And beats her breast, nor stops to loose her hair. 

But madly tears it in her anguish wild. 

Spake then her nurse: "Halcyone, my child " 

"Halcyone? She lives no more, she died 

When died her Ceyx; comfort me not," she cried; 


" No more, no more is there Halcyone ; 

I saw his body, battered by the sea, 

I saw, and knew, and wide my arms I spread, — 

The presence shunned them, and I kenned him dead; 

Not with his cheerful face and wonted air, 

But wan, and naked, and with dripping hair. 

Ah, woful me ! upon this very place 

His poor ghost stood." And then she stoops to trace 

Prints of his feet, if any such remain. 

" This was the fate that my bewildered brain 

Divined so darkly, when upon the wind 

Thy thoughts were flown, and I was left behind. 

Sweet had it been to go with thee, and good 

To know in life or death no widowhood. 

Apart we toss upon the selfsame wave 

That grants me death, but not to share thy grave. 

More cruel than the deep would be my heart, 

If I should longer strive to live apart, 

Or seek, through dragging years, a vain relief 

In contest with unconquerable grief. 

I will not strive, nor thus abandon thee. 

Poor mateless body, tossing on the sea ; 

If in the tomb bone may not rest with bone. 

We yet shall be united on the stone ; 

If on the pyre, flame mingles not with flame, 

Still in the legend name shall touch with name " — 

Here utterance died in mingled word and moan, 

And grief found vent in racking sobs alone. 

Day dawns. Her sad form moves along the strand 
Seeking the place where last he touched the land. 
" Here, while he lingered, loosing slow the ship, 
Here, where upon the shore the wavelets lip, 
He gave me kisses." While in memory 
She views the scene, gazing upon the sea. 
She spies, far out upon the ocean's rim. 
An object, shapeless in the distance dim. 
Which, as the billow brings it nearer land 
Shows somewhat like a corpse, till, close at hand, 
A shipwrecked mariner it plain appears. 
STie, witless who it is, bursts into tears. 


Moved by the omen of her own great woe. 
" Oh wretched one, whoe'er thou art, and oh. 
Thy wife, if such there be, more wretched still ! " 
Nearer it drifts, clearer she sees, until 
Her senses reel. " Ceyx ! " she cries, " 'tis thou ! " 
And tears her hair and garments, beats her brow 
And lifts her trembling hands: "O husband dear, 
And is it thus thou comest home? " 

A pier 
There is, built out into the sea, which takes 
The first shock of the ocean surge, and breaks 
The fury of its onset. Hither springs 
Halcyone, and wondrous new-formed wings 
Beat the light air, and bear her o'er the wave 
A wretched bird. And as she flew, she gave 
Forth from her slender bill a wailing cry, 
Like to a prisoned soul in agony. 
Reaching the mute, pale body of her love, 
In vain with pinions strange the poor bird strove 
Unto her breast his dear, dead limbs to fold. 
The while her hardened bill rained kisses cold. 
Now be it by these kisses which she gave. 
Or be it by the motion of the wave, 
Certes it is, as those who saw it said, 
The dead man seemed to know, and raised his head. 
And I believe he knew, — so strong is Love. 
And so, through pity of the gods above 
To birds they both were changed, and so abide. 
At one in death, e'en Death could not divide 
Their married love, and so the tie remains. 
Still do they mate, and, mid the winter rains. 
Through seven summer days Halcyone 
Broods on her nest, hanging above the sea. 
For winds and waves the Storm God doth subdue 
For his dear children and their love so true. 

The twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth books are con- 
cerned largely with the events of the Trojan War, and with 
the adventures of ^neas. 

The fifteenth or last book of the " Metamorphoses " con- 
tains an eloquent exposition of the Pythagorean philosophy. 


Pythagoras, a Greek by birth, had made Italy, the southern 
coasts of which were indeed thickly studded with the colonies 
of his nation, the land of his adoption, and the traditions of 
his teaching and of his life had a special interest for the peo- 
ple to which had descended the greatness of all the races — 
Oscan, Etruscan, Greek — which had inhabited the beautiful 

The doctrine most commonly connected with Pythago- 
ras's name was that of metempsychosis, or transmigration of 
souls frgm one body to another, whether of man or of the 
lower animals. It was an old belief of the Aryan race, and it 
had a practical aspect which commended it to the Roman 
mind, always more inclined to ethical than to metaphysical 
speculations. Ovid saw in it the philosophical explanation of 
the marvels which he has been relating, and, as it were, their 
vindication from the possible charge of being childish fables, 
vacant of any real meaning, and unworthy of a serious pen. 
The passage which follows refers to a practical rule in which 
we may see a natural inference from the philosophical dogma. 
If a man is so closely allied to the lower animals — if their 
forms are made, equally with his, the receptacles of the one 
divine animating spirit — then there is a certain impiety in his 
slaughtering them to satisfy his wants. Strangely enough, 
the progress or revolution of human thought has brought 
science again to the doctrine of man's kindred with the ani- 
mals, though it seems altogether averse to the merciful con- 
clusion which Pythagoras drew from it. 

What had ye done, ye flocks, ye peaceful race 

Created for Man's blessing, that provide 

To slake his thirst your udder's nectarous draught, 

That with your fleece wrap warm his shivering limbs, 

And serve him better with your life than death? — 

What fault was in the Ox, a creature mild 

And harmless, docile, born with patient toil 

To lighten half the labour of the fields? — 

Ungrateful he, and little worth to reap 

The crop he sowed, that, from the crooked share 

Untraced, his ploughman slew, and to the axe 

Condemned the neck that, worn beneath his yoke, 


For many a spring his furrows traced, and home 
With many a harvest dragged his Autumn-wain ! 
Nor this is all: — but Man must of his guilt 
Make Heaven itself accomplice, and believe 
The Gods with slaughter of their creatures pleased ! 
Lo ! at the altar, fairest of his kind, — 
And by that very fairness marked for doom, — 
The guiltless victim stands, — bedecked for death 
With wreath and garland ! — Ignorant he hears 
The muttering Priest, — feels ignorant his brows 
White with the sprinkling of salted meal 
To his own labour owed, — and ignorant 
Wonders, perchance, to see the lustral urn 
Flash back the glimmer of the lifted knife 
Too soon to dim its brightness with his blood ! 
And Priests are found to teach, and men to deem 
That in the entrails, from the tortured frame 
Yet reeking torn, they read the hest of Heaven ! — 
O race of mortal men ! what lust, what vice 
Of appetite unhallowed, makes ye bold 
To gorge your greed on Being like your own? 
Be wiselier warned : — forbear the barbarous feast, 
Nor in each bloody morsel that ye chew 
The willing labourer of your fields devour ! 

All changes : — nothing perishes ! — Now here, 
Now there, the vagrant spirit roves at will, 
The shifting tenant of a thousand homes : — 
Now, elevate, ascends from beast to man, — 
Now, retrograde, descends from man to beast; — 
But never dies! — Upon the tablet's page 
Erased, and written fresh, the characters 
Take various shape, — the wax remains the same :— 
So is it with the Soul that, migrating 
Through all the forms of breathing life, retains 
Unchanged its essence. Oh, be wise, and hear 
Heaven's warning from my prophet-lips, nor dare 
With impious slaughter, for your glutton-greed. 
The kindly bond of Nature violate. 
Nor from its home expel the Soul, perchance 
Akin to yours, to nourish blood with blood ! 


It has been handed down to us on good authority that 
Virgil, in his last ilhiess, desired his friend to commit his 
" ^neid " to the flames. It had not received his final correc- 
tions, and he was unwilling that it should go down to pos- 
terity less perfect than he could have made it. The desire, 
though it doubtless came from a mind enfeebled by morbid 
conditions of the body, was probably sincere. We can hardly 
believe as much of what Ovid tells us of his own intentions 
about the " Metamorphoses : " " As for the verses which told 
of the changed forms — an unlucky work, which its author's 
banishment interrupted — these in the hour of my departure 
I put, sorrowing, as I put many other of my good things, 
into the flames with my own hands." Doubtless he did so; 
nothing could have more naturally displayed his vexation. 
But he could hardly have been ignorant that in destroying 
his manuscript he was not destroying his work. " As they 
did not perish altogether," he adds, " but still exist, I suppose 
that there were several copies of them." But it is scarcely 
conceivable that a poem containing as nearly as possible twelve 
thousand lines should have existed in several copies by chance, 
or without the knowledge of the author. 

Ovid's masterpiece has been accepted by posterity as sec- 
ond in rank — second only to Virgil's epic — among the great 
monuments of Roman genius. It has been translated into 
every language of modem Europe that possesses a literature. 
Its astonishing ingenuity, the unfailing variety of its colours, 
the flexibility with which its style deals alike with the sub- 
lime and the familiar, and with equal facility is gay and pa- 
thetic, tender and terrible, have well entitled it to the honour, 
and justify the boast with which the poet concludes : — 

So crown I here a work that dares defy 
The wrath of Jove, the fire, the sword, the tooth 
Of all-devouring Time ! — Come when it will 
The day that ends my life's uncertain term, — 
That on this corporal frame alone hath power 
To work extinction, — high above the Stars 
My nobler part shall soar, — my Name remain 
Immortal, — wheresoe'er the might of Rome 
XI— 20 


O'erawes the subject Earth my Verse survive 
Familiar in the mouths of men ! — and, if 
A Bard may prophesy, while Time shall last 
Endure, and die but with the dying World ! 

The Fasti, or Roman Calendar 

Augustus not only swayed the armies of Rome — he was 
also supreme pontiff. It was the dream of his life to reawaken 
the old Roman patriotism, and to kindle in the men of his 
own day something like the sentiments of the past. The age 
might be frivolous and luxurious ; but he knew well that 
the Roman mind was profoundly religious. The gods 
had been neglected, and their temples had fallen into decay 
during the civil wars ; and we may well believe that Horace 
expressed what was in the minds of many when he prophe- 
sied dire judgments on the State unless the sacred buildings 
were restored.^ To this work the emperor assiduously ap- 
plied himself. He built temple after temple, established 
priesthoods, and revived old religious ceremonials. Every- 
where in the capital were now to be seen the outward signs 
of piety and devotion. Religion, in fact — its history, its 
ritual, all its ancient associations — became subjects of popu- 
lar interest; and, as might be expected, a fashionable poet 
could not do otherwise than recognise in his verses the growth 
of this new taste among his countrymen. Nor would he find 
any difficulty in doing so. A Roman could seldom be origi- 
nal, but, on the other hand, there was scarcely anything for 
which a model could not be found in Greek literature. Alex- 
andria had long been a famous literary centre, and its schol- 
ars and authors had handled every conceivable subject, hu- 
man and divine. There, in the third century B.C., in the reigns 
of Ptolemy Philadelphus and Ptolemy Euergetes, had flour- 
ished Callimachus, specially distinguished by his attainments 
as a grammarian and critic. He was at the head, as he no 
doubt well deserved to be, of the great library of Alexandria. 
Unfortunately, of his more learned works, which were on a 

^ Odes, III. 6 


vast scale, nothing but the titles and a few meagre fragments 
have come down to us. He was, however, a poet as well as 
a scholar, and some of his poems, hymns, and epigrams have 
survived. It appears that they were singularly popular, 
though, it must be admitted, they remind us of the familiar 
proverb, "A poet is born, not made." However, it is certain 
that the Roman poets of the Augustan age liked them, and 
thought it worth their while to imitate them. Catullus has 
done this in his famous poem on the " Hair of Berenice." 
Propertius even made it his aim to be a Roman Callimachus, 
and sometimes became intolerably obscure and affected in the 

It need not surprise us that Ovid followed in the wake of 
two such eminent men. He knew the public for whom he 
was writing; he knew, too, what sort of poems would be ap- 
proved by the emperor and the court. A learned poem, dwell- 
ing on the old worship of his country, and commemorating 
the glories of its great families, would appeal successfully to 
a wide circle of readers. For such a work he had a model 
ready to his hand in an epic of Callimachus, which appears 
to have given in detail a multitude of myths and legends, with 
some account of old customs and religious rites. This poem, 
which has not come down to us, was entitled " Causes," and 
was, it may be supposed, a learned poetical dissertation on 
the cause or origin of the various beliefs current among man- 
kind, and of the outward forms in which they had embodied 
themselves. It was this elaborate work which Ovid under- 
took to imitate, and perhaps to popularise. The result is the 
poem commonly known as the " Fasti." 

We may describe this work as a sort of handbook of the 
Roman Calendar, or as a poetical almanac, or as a ritual in 
verse. It gives, as Dean Merivale says, " the seasons and 
reasons" of every special religious worship and ceremonial. 
The mythology of old Rome and the legends of her heroes 
are worked, and worked with wonderful success, into the tex- 
ture of the poem. \Miat in the hands of a mere Dryasdust 
would have been intolerably wearisome and dull, becomes 
under Ovid's treatment the lightest and pleasantest of read- 
ing. The marvellous ease and dexterity with which he turns 


his not always very plastic materials into the smoothest and 
most graceful verse, perpetually strikes a scholar with amaze- 
ment. He takes a story or a legend from some old annalist, 
and tells it with a neatness and a finish which, in its own 
way, has never been rivalled. This was a charm which a 
Roman must have appreciated better than we can, but there 
were many other things which tended to make the " Fasti " 
a thoroughly popular poem. It must have been pleasant to an 
ordinary reader to have picked up a good deal of antiqua- 
rian lore in a few hours of easy and delightful reading. The 
book would continually have been in the hands of the fash- 
ionable lady, who would think that it became her position to 
know something about the meaning and rationale of her re- 
ligious observances. And we may take for granted it would 
please Augustus. Anything which familiarised the people 
with old beliefs and traditions would be certain to have his 
hearty sympathies. The poet too, of course, took care to 
extol and magnify the great family of the Julii, and to hint 
every now and then that Roman grandeur was providentially 
connected with their supremacy. 

Such is the general idea and purpose. The poem, as we 
have it, is in six books; originally (of this there can hardly 
be a doubt) it consisted of twelve, each month of the Roman 
calendar having a book devoted to it. The calendar, like our 
own week, had a religious basis. Some of the months took 
their names from Roman divinities. March had been the first 
month in the old calendar, according to which the year was 
divided into ten months. The first Caesar, who laid his re- 
forming hand on everything, brought his universal knowledge 
to bear on this intricate subject, and introduced a new ar- 
rangement by which the year was henceforth to be made up 
of twelve months, January being the first. Ovid represents 
the god Janus as visibly appearing to him, and explaining his 
origin and attributes. A key is in his left hand, as a symbol 
of his august office as the Beginner and Opener of all things. 
He addresses Ovid as the " laborious poet of the Days," and 
then unfolds his various mysterious functions, and the mean- 
ing of the two faces which were regarded as his appropriate 


The poet describes himself as encouraged to continue the 
dialogue. He wants to know why the year should begin with 
cold, rather than what might seem a more appropriate com- 
mencement, the warmth of spring. He is told that it follows 
the sun, which now, gathering strength and lengthening its 
course, begins a new existence. " Why should not New- 
year's day be a holiday?" "We must not begin by setting 
an example of idleness." Then, after other questions, " What 
is the meaning of the customary gift of palm, and dried figs, 
and honey in the white comb?" " It is well that the year, if 
it is to be sweet, should begin with sweets." " But why pres- 
ents of money ? " Janus then explains the significance of the 
emblems on the coins that were given on his festival. The 
double head on one side was his own likeness ; the ship on the 
reverse was the memorial of that which in old time had borne 
Saturn, expelled from the throne of heaven, to his kingdom 
in Italy. A description of his happy reign, " The Golden 
Age," as tlie ancients fondly called it, follows. 

Five other days of the month are similarly distinguished. 
On the eleventh of January occurs the festival of the 
Agonalia, and Ovid takes the opportunity to display his 
etymological learning in accounting for the name. Was it 
not the word Agnalia, " the sacrifice of lambs," with the "" o " 
inserted ? 

With characteristic ingenuity he then digresses into an 
elegant history of the growth of sacrifice. Meal and salt 
sufficed for the simple offerings of early days. No spices 
then had come from across the sea. Savin and the crackling 
bay-leaf gave perfume enough ; and it was only the wealthy 
who could add violets to the garlands of wild flowers. The 
earliest victim was the pig, which was sacrificed to Ceres, in 
punishment for the injury that he did to the crops under her 
protection. Warned by his fate, the goat should have spared 
the vine-shoots ; but he offended, and fell a victim to the wrath 
of Bacchus. The pig and the goat were guilty. But how had 
the ox and the sheep offended? The ox first suffered at the 
bidding of Proteus, from whom the shepherd Aristseus, dis- 
consolate at the loss of his bees, learnt that a carcass buried 
in the ground would furnish him with a new supply. The 


sheep was guilty, it would seem, of eating the sacred herb 
vervain. What animal could hope to escape, when the ox 
and the sheep perished? The Sun-god demanded the horse, 
swiftest of animals; Diana, the hind, which once had been 
made the substitute for the maiden Iphigenia. "I myself," 
says Ovid, " have seen the wild tribes who dwell near the snow 
of Hsemus sacrifice the dog to Hecate." Even the ass falls 
a victim to Silenus, who could never forgive him for an un- 
timely bray. Birds suffer because they reveal the counsels of 
gods by the indications of the future which soothsayers detect 
in their movements and their cries. The goose is not pro- 
tected by the service which he did to Rome in wakening the 
defenders of the Capitol. And the cock, who summons the 
day, is made an offering to the Goddess of Night. 

The thirteenth of the month introduces the story of 
Evander, one of the graceful narrations with which Ovid re- 
lieves the antiquarian details of the " Fasti." Evander is in- 
deed a conspicuous personage in Italian legend. An Arcadian 
prince, banished in early youth from his native land, but not 
for any fault of his own, he had settled in Italy many years 
before the Trojan war. He was in extreme old age when 
-f^neas, carrying with him the fortunes of the future Rome, 
landed on the Latian shore; and he gave to the struggle the 
support of his first alliance. Virgil in his great epic has made 
a copious use of the story. The voyage of the Trojan chief 
up the unknown stream of Tiber to the homely court of the 
Arcadian king, his hospitable reception, the valour and un- 
timely death of the young Pallas, who leads his father's troops 
to fight by the side of the destined heirs of Italy, furnish some 
of the most striking scenes in the " ^neid." Ovid, in de- 
scribing Evander's arrival in Italy, puts into his mouth a 
prophecy of the future greatness of Rome, which with char- 
acteristic dexterity he turns into elaborate flattery of Tiberius 
and Livia, the emperor's mother. This passage, which, it is 
evident, was written after the death of Augustus, is one of 
the many proofs that the Fasti were kept under revision 
until close upon the end of the poet's life. To the legend of 
Evander is attached the story of Hercules and Cacus. 
Roman writers were anxious to make their own country the 


scene of some of the wondrous exploits of the great "knight- 
errant" of antiquity. The tale ran as follows: — 

Somewhere near the strait which joins the Atlantic to the 
Inner Sea dwelt Geryones, a hideous monster with triple 
body, master of a herd of oxen of fabulous beauty. Him 
the wandering Hercules slew, and driving the cattle home- 
wards to Argos, found himself — having, it would seem, some- 
what lost his way — near Evander's city, on the banks of 
Tiber. He was hospitably entertained by the Arcadian ; and 
his cattle meanwhile wandered at their will over the fields. 
Next morning he missed two of the bulls. It seemed in vain 
to search for them. They had been stolen, indeed, but the 
robber had dragged them tail-foremost into his cave, and the 
device was sufficient to puzzle the simple-minded hero. The 
robber was Cacus, the terror of the Aventine forest, a son of 
Vulcan, huge of frame, and strong as he was huge, whose 
dwelling was in a cave, which even the wild beasts could 
hardly find, its entrance hideous with limbs and heads of men, 
and its floor white with human bones. Hercules was about 
to depart, when the bellowing of the imprisoned oxen reached 
him. Guided by the sound, he found the cave. Cacus had 
blocked the entrance with a large mass of rock, which even 
five yoke of oxen could scarcely have stirred. But the 
shoulders that had supported the heavens were equal to the 
task. The rock gave way, and the robber had to fight for 
his prey and his life. First with fists, then with stones and 
sticks he fought, and finding himself worsted, had recourse 
to his father's aid, and vomited forth fire in the face of the 
foe. All was in vain; the knotted club descended, and the 
monster fell dying on the ground. The victor sacrificed one 
of the cattle to Jupiter, and left a memorial of himself in the 
ox-market, the name of which was traced, not to the common- 
place explanation of its use, but to the animal which the vic- 
torious son of Jupiter had there sacrificed to his sire. 

What remains in the book may be passed over with brief 
notice. The thirteenth of the month was distinguished as the 
day on which Augustus had amused the Roman people, and 
gratified his own passion for veiling despotism under republi- 
can forms, by restoring to the senate the control of the 


provinces in which peace had been restored. On the eigh- 
teenth was commemorated the dedication of the Temple of 
Concord, first made when CamilUis had reconciled contending 
orders in the State, and renewed by Tiberius after completing 
his German conquests. A memorable holiday, that of the 
"sowing day," was fixed at the discretion of the pontiff, near 
the end of the month. The thirtieth commemorated the dedi- 
cation of the altar to Peace, and afforded the poet yet another 
opportunity of offering his homage to the house of Au- 
gustus : — 

Her tresses bound with Actium's ^ crown of bay. 
Peace comes; in all the world, sweet goddess, stay! 
Her altar flames, ye priests, with incense feed, 
Bid 'neath the axe the snow-white victim bleed ! 
Pray willing heaven, that Caesar's house may stand, 
Long as the peace it gives a wearied land ! 

It would weary the reader, even did space permit, to go 
in like detail through the poet's account of each month. He 
begins each with an attempt to determine the etymology of its 
name. That of February, he tells us, was to be found in the 
word fcbrua, a name given b}^ the Romans of old to certain 
offerings of a purifying and expiatory nature used at this 
time. The purification of the flocks and herds, as well as o5 
human beings, was a very important element in the religious 
life of Rome; and the words lustrum and lustratio, which de- 
note certain forms of purification, are well known to every 
student of Roman history. February is therefore the "pur- 
ifying" month; and its name thus testifies to a widespread 
belief in the need of cleansing and expiation. March, of 
course, takes its name from the god Mars, the father of 
Rome's legendary founder. For April the poet gives a fanci- 
ful etymology. "Spring," he says, "opens" (apcrit) "all 
things ; " and so, he adds, " April, according to tradition, 
means the 'open' time" {apertiim tempus). It is the time 

^At the battle of Actium (fought B.C. 31) the civil wars which had 
raged at intervals for more than sixty years were brought to a final 
close by the victory of Octavius Caesar over his rival Antony. 


of love; and Venus during this month is in the ascendant, 
" the goddess who is all-powerful in earth, in heaven, in sea." 
For the next month. May, Ovid confesses that he had no satis- 
factory theory to offer as to its name. He suggests that it is 
formed from the root of major and majestas. " May," he 
says, " is the month for old men ; and its special function is 
to teach the young reverence for age. " Majestas," indeed, 
was regarded, after Roman fashion — which delighted in real 
personifications — as a divinity, whom Romulus and Numa 
worshipped as the upholder of filial reverence and obedience, 
and also as the rightful disposer of the offices and honours 
of the State in their due order. With this divinity the month 
of May was associated. June is Juno's month, though Ovid 
admits that the explanation is doubtful. He represents the 
goddess as appearing to him in a secluded grove when he was 
pondering within himself on the origin of the name. She 
tells him that, as he has undertaken to celebrate in his verse 
the religious festivals of Rome, he has thereby won for him- 
self the privilege of beholding the divine essence. As she 
was both the wife and sister of Jupiter, her month would 
speak to the public of Rome of the marriage-tie and of 
family-bonds. With the sixth book the Fasti, as we have 
them, come to an end. 

The name having been thus accounted for, astronomical 
occurrences, religious ceremonies, matters of ritual, the anni- 
versaries of the dedications of temples and altars, and the 
like, are duly recorded, the poet availing himself of every op- 
portunity to introduce some historical or mythological legend. 
They are the most attractive part of the work, for Ovid is 
always happy in narrative. Among the most noticeable of 
the historical class is the tale of the three hundred and six 
Fabii who fell on the plains of Veii, in the battle of the 
Cremera, fighting with an heroic courage, in which Roman 
patriotism found a match for the great deed of Leonidas and 
his three hundred Spartans at Thermopyl^. Indeed, though 
it would be rash to deny altogether the genuineness of the 
narrative, there is something suspicious about the Roman 
legend. The historians of Rome had indeed a singular power 
of embellishment and invention, and it is not doing them any 


injustice to suppose that the original story, whatever it may 
have been, grew somewhat beneath their hands. The legend, 
to which the reader may give such credence as he pleases, 
runs thus: — 

In the early days of the Commonwealth, Rome was 
troubled much by dissension at home, and by the attacks of 
her Etruscan neighbours on the north. The great house of 
the Fabii had fallen into disfavour with their countrymen. 
What could they do better than at once rid the city of a pres- 
ence which was no longer welcome, while they served their 
country by attacking its enemies abroad? So they go forth, 
a little band, wholly composed of men of the Fabian race. 
"One house," says the poet, "had taken on itself the whole 
might and burden of Rome : any one of them was worthy to 
be a commander." They cross the Cremera, one of the tribu- 
taries of the Tiber, a little stream then swollen by the melting 
of the snows of winter. The enemy fly before them ; they 
penetrate into a wooded plain well fitted for the treacherous 
ambuscade. " Whither do ye rush, O noble house ? to your 
peril do you trust the foe. Simple-hearted nobility, beware 
of the weapons of treachery!" All in a moment the enemy 
issue from the woods, and escape is utterly cut off. "What 
can a few brave heroes do against so many thousands ? What 
resource is left them in so dire a crisis? " But the Fabii did 
not die unavenged: "as the boar in the forests of Laurentum, 
when at last brought to bay, deals havoc among the hounds," 
so these intrepid warriors fall amid a multitude of slain foes. 
" Thus," as the poet says, " a single day sent forth all the 
Fabii to the war; a single day destroyed them all." But 
one of the family was left, a stripling, who could not as 
yet bear arms. This was a special providence. The gods 
took care that the house descended from Hercules should not 
be utterly extinguished. It had a great destiny before it. 
"The stripling was preserved," the poet says, "that he who 
was surnamed Maximus, as Hannibal's formidable antagonist, 
might hereafter be born," the man who, by his policy of de- 
lay {cunctando, whence his surname of Cunctator), was to 
restore the fortunes of Rome. 

Another well-told legend is that of the translation and 


deification of Romulus. "When his father, mighty in arms, 
saw the new walls of the city completed, and many a war 
ended by his son's prowess, he uttered this prayer to Jupiter : 
* Rome's power now is firmly planted ; she needs not my 
child's help. Restore the son to the father; though one has 
perished, I shall still have one left me in his own stead and 
in the stead of Remus. There will be one for thee to raise 
to the azure vault of heaven: thou hast spoken the word; 
Jove's word must be fulfilled.'" The prayer was at once 
granted, and, amid parting clouds, the king, while he was in 
the act of administering justice to his people, was carried up 
with peals of thunder and lightning-flashes into the heavens, 
on his father's steeds. The grief of Rome was solaced by a 
vision of the departed hero, who appeared to one of the Julii 
as he was on his way from Alba Longa. " Suddenly, with a 
crash, the clouds on his left hand parted asunder; he drew 
back, and his hair stood on end. Romulus seemed to stand 
before him — a grand and more than human figure, adorned 
with the robe of state. He seemed to say, Forbid Rome's 
citizens to mourn; their tears must not insult my divinity. 
Let them offer incense and worship a new god, Quirinus, and 
pursue their country's arts and the soldier's work." 

Sometimes the poet takes his readers into the obscurer 
bypaths of the old Italian mythology. We meet with the 
names of divinities which, to the ordinary reader, are alto- 
gether unfamiliar. Such a name is that of Anna Perenna, a 
deified sister of the Phoenician Dido, according to the accounts 
both of Virgil and Ovid. She w^as a river-nymph, and to this 
her name Perenna (everlasting) was meant to point. Her 
story is related at great length by Ovid. Her yearly festival, 
it appears, was celebrated on the Ides of Alarch, and was a 
somewhat grotesque ceremony. The populace had a sort of 
picnic on the grassy banks of the Tiber, and indulged them- 
selves very freely. Indeed there was a distinct motive to 
drink without stint, as it was the custom to pray for as many 
years of life as they had drunk cups of wine. The connection 
between the two is not to us very obvious; but, if we may 
trust Ovid, there were those who would drink out the years 
of long-lived Nestor in the hope of attaining that worthy's 


age. The celebrants sang all the songs they had heard at the 
theatre, and, having drunk and sung to their heart's content, 
they had a merry dance. 

Ovid ends his account of this Anna Perenna with an amus- 
ing little story about her. When she had been made a goddess, 
Mars paid her a visit, and had some private conversation with 
her. " You are worshipped," he said, " in my month ; I 
have great hopes from your kind assistance. I am on fire 
with love of Minerva; we both of us bear arms, and long 
have I been cherishing my passion. Contrive that, as we 
follow the same pursuit, we may be united. The part well 
becomes you, O good-natured old woman!" Anna professed 
her willingness to help the god of war, and undertook the 
delicate business of arranging a meeting. However, for a 
time she put him off with promises ; but at last the ardent 
lover was, as he thought, to be gratified. So the god hurried 
off to meet the object of his affections ; but when in his impa- 
tience he raised her veil, and was about to snatch a kiss, he 
found that Anna had played him a trick, and had dressed her- 
self up as Minerva. He was naturally angry and ashamed 
of himself, all the more so as the new goddess laughed him to 
scorn, and as his old flame Venus thoroughly enjoyed the joke. 
It appears that this legendary hoax, which Ovid tells in his 
best way, gave occasion to a number of sly and humorous say- 
ings the merry people on the banks of the Tiber. It 
was, no doubt, great fun for them to think of the august deity 
to whom their city owed its founder and first king, having 
been " sold " in such a fashion. 

The Tristia, or the "Sorrows" 

Ovid's pen was not idle during the melancholy years of 
exile which closed his life. In addition to revising the 
"Metamorphoses" and adding to the "Fasti," he composed 
in their entirety the " Sorrows," the " Letters from the Pon- 
tus," and the " Ibis." 

In the " Sorrows " and the " Letters from the Pontus " 
Ovid pours forth in an increasing stream his complaints against 
the cruelty of fate and the miseries of his exile; his supplica- 


tions for the removal, or at least the mitigation of his sen- 
tence ; and his entreaties to those who had known him in his 
prosperity, that they would help, or, if help was impossible, 
would at least remember their fallen friend. It must be con- 
fessed that they lack the brilliancy of the earlier poems. The 
genius of the poet stagnated, as he says himself, in the incle- 
ment climate, and amidst the barbarous associations of his 
place of exile. And the reader is wearied by the garrulous 
monotony of nearly six thousand verses, in which the absorb- 
ing subject of the poet's own sorrows is only exchanged for 
flattery — all the more repulsive because we know it to have 
been unavailing — of the ruler from whose anger or policy he 
was suffering. Yet there are not wanting points of interest. 
There are graphic sketches of scenery and character touches 
of pathos, here and there even a gleam of humour, and some- 
times, when the occasion brings him to speak of his own 
genius, and of the fame to which he looked forward, an 
assertion of independence and dignity, which is infinitely 
refreshing amidst his unmanly repining against his fate, and 
the yet more unmanly adulations by which he hoped ,to 
escape it. 

The first book of the " Sorrows " was written and des- 
patched to Rome before Ovid had reached his allotted place 
of banishment. A preface commends to all who still remem- 
bered him at Rome the little volume, which would remind 
them of the banished Ovid. It was to go in the guise that 
became an exile's book. It was to be without the ornaments 
which distinguished more fortunate volumes. A character- 
istic passage tells us what these ornaments were, and gives 
us as good an idea as we can anywhere get of the appearance 
of a Roman book. The parchment or paper, on the inner 
side of which was the writing, was tinted on the outer of a 
warm and pleasing colour, by means of saffron or cedar-oil. 
The title of the book was written in vermilion letters. The 
stick round which the roll was made had bosses of ivory, or 
some other ornamental material, and the ends of the roll were 
polished and coloured black. Any erasure was considered to 
be a great disfigurement: of such disfigurement the poet's 
book was not to be ashamed. Every reader would understand 


that sufficient cause was found in the author's tears, and for 
that excuse the blots. 

Nowhere throughout the " Sorrows " does Ovid venture 
to name any one of his friends to whom he addressed the 
various poems of which the several books are composed. His 
wife only is excepted. If any peril had ever threatened her, 
it had now passed. Indeed, if the poet is to be believed, she 
desired nothing more than that she should be allowed to share 
her husband's exile. But it was evidently a perilous thing 
for friends of the banished man to be supposed to keep up any 
intercourse with him. Time, though it brought no relaxation 
to the severity of the punishment, seemed to have removed 
something of the bitterness with which the poet's name was 
regarded at Rome. The " Letters from the Pontus " are 
addressed by name to various friends, and we find from them 
that, instead of the two or three faithful hearts who alone 
w^ere left to the fallen man in the early days of his ruin, he 
had during the latter years of his exile a goodly number of 

Of the second poem in the book, describing the imminent 
peril of shipwreck in which he found himself on his voyage 
from Italy, mention has already been made. He returns to 
the same subject in the fourth elegy, mentioning, not without 
a certain pathos, that the adverse winds had driven him back 
within sight of that Italy on which it was forbidden him again 
to set foot. 

The fourth poem describes his departure from his home. 
The fifth makes one of the many fruitless appeals for help 
which Ovid continued throughout the weary years of his 
banishment to address to any friend whom he thought suffi- 
ciently bold to intercede on his behalf with the offended Csesar. 
An elegy addressed to his wife, — the first of many poems in 
which he warmly expresses his gratitude for the devotion with 
which she was defending his interests against enemies and 
faithless friends ; another, addressed to a friend, commending 
to his notice the book of the Metamorphoses, and excusing, 
on the ground of the sudden interruption caused by the 
author's banishment, its many imperfections ; and a pathetic 
remonstrance with one who had once professed a great friend- 


ship for him, but had deserted him in his hour of need, — 
these, with two other poems, complete the first book of the 
*' Sorrows." 

It may be noticed, as a proof of the popularity which the 
poet had attained, that the friend whom Ovid addresses was 
accustomed to wear in a ring a gem engraved with Ovid's 
portrait. Gems were in one sense what miniatures were to 
the last generation, and what photographs are to ourselves; 
but both the material and the process of engraving were costly, 
and it is probable that it was only persons of some note who 
enjoyed the distinction of having their features thus per- 
petuated. There is a traditionary likeness of Ovid, which may 
possibly have come down to us in this way. It is a curious 
fact that, thanks to this art of gem-engraving, we are well 
acquainted with the faces of men separated from us by twenty 
centuries and more, while the outward semblance of those who 
are within three or four hundred years of our own time has 
been irrecoverably lost. 

The second book of the " Sorrows " is an elaborate Apolo- 
gia pro vita sua [Defence of his life], addressed to Augustus. 
He hopes that, as verse had been his ruin, so verse might 
help ameliorate his condition. " The emperor himself had 
acknowledged its power. At his bidding the Roman matrons 
had chanted the song of praise to Cybele; and he had ordered 
the hymns which at Secular Games had been raised to Phoebus. 
Might he not hope that the wrath of the terrestrial god might 
be propitiated in the same way ? To pardon was the preroga- 
tive of deity. Jupiter himself, when he had hurled his thun- 
ders, allowed the clear sky again to be seen. And who had 
been more merciful than Augustus ? Ovid had seen many pro- 
moted to wealth and power who had borne arms against him. 
No such guilt had been the poet's. He had never forgotten 
to offer his prayers for the ruler of Rome, had never failed 
to sing his praises. And had he not received the emperor's 
approval? When the knights had passed in review before 
him, the poet's horse had been duly restored to him.^ Nay, 

^ A knight disgraced by the censor (the emperor was perpetual 
censor) had his horse taken from him. 


he had filled high stations of responsibility, had been a mem- 
ber of the Court of the Hundred, and even of the Council 
of Ten, which presided over it. And all had been ruined by 
an unhappy mistake! Yet the emperor had been merciful. 
Life had been spared to him, and his paternal property. No 
decree of the senate or of any judge had condemned him to 
banishment. The emperor had avenged his own wrongs by 
an exercise of his own power, but avenged them with a pun- 
ishment so much milder than it might have been, as to leave 
him hopes for the future." 

These hopes he proceeds to commend to the emperor by 
elaborate flattery. He appeals successively to the gods, who, 
if they loved Rome, would prolong the days of its lord; to 
the country, which would always be grateful for the bless- 
ings of his rule; to Livia, the one wife who was worthy of 
him, and for whom he was the one worthy husband; to the 
triumphs which his grandsons ^ were winning in his name and 
under his auspices; and implores that if return may not be 
granted to him, at least some milder exile may be conceded. 
Here he was on the very verge of the empire, and within 
reach of its enemies. Was it well that a Roman citizen should 
be in peril of captivity among barbarous tribes? Ovid then 
proceeds to set forth an apology for his offending poems. To 
the real cause of his banishment he makes one brief allusion. 
More he dared not say. " I am not worth so much as that 
I should renew your wounds, O Csesar : it is far too much that 
you should once have felt the pang." 

It is needless to examine the Apology in detail. The sum 
and substance of it is, that the poems were written for those 
to whom they could not possibly do any harm ; that readers to 
v^'hose modesty they might be likely to do an injury had been 
expressly warned off from them; that a mind perversely dis- 
posed would find evil anywhere, even in the most sacred 
legends; that, if everything whence the opportunity for wrong 
might arise was to be condemned, the theatre, the circus, the 
temples with their porticoes so convenient for forbidden meet- 

^ Drusus, the son, and Germanicus the nephew and adopted son of 
Tiberius, Augustus's step-son. 


ings, and their associations so strangely tinged with Hcence, 
would share the same fate. As for himself, his life had 
been pure but for this one fault ; and this fault how many had 
committed before him! Then follows a long list of poets, 
who, if to sing of love was an offence, had been grievous 
offenders. Then there had been poems on dice-playing, and 
dice had been a grievous offence in the old days. All verses 
that taught men how to waste that precious thing time, — 
verses about swimming, about ball-playing, about the trundling 
of hoops (a favourite amusement, it would seem, even with 
middle-aged Romans), about the furnishings of the table 
and its etiquette, about the different kinds of earthenware 
(the fancy for curious pots and pans was, it will be seen, in 
full force among the wealthy Romans of Ovid's time), — 
might be condemned. Plays, too, and pictures were grievous 
offenders in the same way. Why should Ovid be the only 
one to suffer? — Ovid, too, who had written grave and serious 
works which no one could censure, and who had never 
wronged any man by slanderous verses, over whose fall no 
one rejoiced, but many had mourned. 

" Permit these pleas thy mighty will to sway, 
Great Lord, thy country's Father, Hope, and Stay! 
Return I ask not; though at last thy heart, 
Touched by long suffering, may the boon impart; 
Let not the penalty the fault exceed: 
Exile I bear; for peace, for life I plead." 

It is probable that the poem was despatched to Rome 
immediately after its author had reached Tomi. He would 
not have ventured to put in a plea for the mitigation of pun- 
ishment before he had at least begun to suffer it; but it is 
equally certain that the plea would not be long delayed. The 
third book of the " Sorrows " was likewise composed and sent 
off during the first year of his banishment. The twelfth out 
of its fourteen elegies speaks of the return of spring. The 
winter of the Pontus, longer than any that he had known 
before, had passed away; lads and lasses in happier lands 
were gathering violets ; the swallow was building under the 
eaves; vineyard and forest — strangers, alas! both of them, 

XI— 21 


to the land of the Get^ — were bursting into leaf. And in 
Rome's happier place, which he might never see again, all 
the athletic sports of the Campus, all the gay spectacles of the 
theatre, were being enjoyed. The poet's only solace was that, 
as even in these dismal regions spring brought some relief, 
and opened the sea to navigation, some ship might reach the 
shore and bring news of Italy and of Caesar's triumphs. 

The next elegy must have been written about the same 
time. Ovid's birthday (we know it to have been the 20th of 
March) came, the first that had visited him in his exile. 
" Would that thou hadst brought," he says, " not an addition 
but an end to my pain! 

"What dost thou here? Has angry Caesar sent 
Thee too to share my hopeless banishment? 
Think'st thou to find the customary rite — 
To see, the while I stand in festive white. 
With flowery wreaths the smoking altars crowned, 
And hear in spicy flames the salt meal's crackling sound? 
Shall honeyed cakes do honour to the day, 
While I in words of happy omen pray? 
Not such my lot. A cruel fate and stern 
Forbids me thus to welcome thy return ; 
With gloomy cypress be my altars dight, 
And flames prepared the funeral flames to light ! 
I burn no incense to unheeding skies, — 
From heart so sad no words of blessing rise; 
If yet for me one fitting prayer remain, 
'Tis this : Return not to these shores again ! " 

The gloom of his lot was aggravated by causes of which 
he bitterly complains in more than one of his poems. In the 
third elegy, which he addressed to his wife, she must not 
wonder that the letter was written in a strange hand. He 
had been grievously, even dangerously, ill. The climate did 
not suit him; nor the water (Ovid seems to have been a 
water-drinker), nor the soil. He had not a decent house to 
cover his head; there was no food that could suit a sick 
man's appetite. No physician could be found to prescribe 
for his malady. There was not even a friend who could 


while away the time by conversation or reading. He felt, 
he complains in another letter, a constant lassitude, which 
extended from his body to his mind. Perpetual sleeplessness 
troubled him ; his food gave him no nourishment ; he was 
wasted away almost to a skeleton. 

Writing about two years after this time, he assumes a 
more cheerful tone. His health was restored. He had be- 
come hardened to the climate. If it were not for his mental 
trouble, all would be well. Another pressing matter was 
anxiety about his literary reputation, which the offended 
authorities at home were doing their best to extinguish. He 
imagines his little book making its way with trembling steps 
through the well-known scenes of the capital. It goes to the 
temple of Apollo, where the works of authors old and new 
were open for the inspection of readers. There it looks for 
its brothers, — not the luckless poem which had excited the 
wrath of Caesar, and which their father wished he had never 
begotten, but the unoffending others. Alas! they were all 
absent; and even while it looked, the guardian of the place 
bade it begone. Nor was it more successful in the neighbour- 
ing library of the temple of Liberty. Banished from public, 
its only resource was to find shelter from private friendship. 
To such shelter, accordingly, the volume is commended in 
the last elegy of the book. This friend was, it seems, a patron 
of literature, — "a lover of new poets," Ovid calls him. And 
the author begs his favour and care for his latest work. 
Only he must not look for too much. Everything was against 
him in that barbarous land. The wonder was that he could 
write at all. " There is no supply of books here to rouse and 
nurture my mind; instead of books, there is the clash of 
swords and the bow. There is no one in the country to give 
me, should I read to him my verses, an intelligent hearing. 
There is no place to which I can retire. The closely-guarded 
walls and fast-shut gate keep out the hostile Getae. Often I 
look for a word, for a name, for a place, and there is no one 
to help me to it; often (I am ashamed to confess it) when I 
try to say something, words fail me ; I find that I have forgot- 
ten how to speak. On every side of me I hear the sound of 
Thracian and Scythian tongues. I almost believe that I 


could write in Getic measures. Nay, believe me, I sometimes 
fear lest Pontic words should be found mixed with my Latin." 
We have the same complaints and fears repeated in the 
fifth book. After some uncomplimentary expressions about 
the savage manners of the people, and their equally savage 
dress and appearance, — the furs and loose trousers by which 
they sought, but with ill success, to keep out the cold, and their 
long and shaggy beards, — he goes on to speak about the lan- 
guage :— 

" Among a few remain traces of the Greek tongue, but even 
these corrupted with Getic accent. There is scarcely a man among 
the people who by any chance can give you an answer on any matter 
in Latin. I, the Roman bard, am compelled — pardon me, O Muses ! 
— to speak for the most part after Sarmatian fashion. I am ashamed 
of it, and I own it; by this time, from long disuse, I myself can 
scarcely recall Latin words. And I do not doubt but that there 
are not a few barbarisms in this little book. It is not the fault 
of the writer, but of the place." 

One of the elegies in the third book has been already 
noticed. It is addressed to Perilla, and the question whether 
this lady was, as some commentators suppose, the daughter 
of the poet, has been briefly discussed. It begins : " Go, let- 
ter, hastily penned, to salute Perilla, the faithful messenger of 
my words; you will find her either sitting with her dear 
mother, or among her books and Muses." He reminds her 
of how he had been her teacher in the art of verse, and tells 
her that if her genius remained still as vivid as of old, only 
Sappho would excel her. Let her not be terrified by his own 
sad fate; only she must beware of perilous subjects. Then 
follows a noble vindication of his art, and of the dignity which 
it gave to him, its humble follower : — 

Long years will mar those looks so comely now. 
And age will write its wrinkles on thy brow. 
Mark how it comes with fatal, noiseless pace. 
To spoil the blooming honours of thy face ! 
Soon men will say, and thou wilt hear with pain, 
" Surely she once was lovely ;" and in vain. 


That thy too faithful glass is false, complain. 

Small are thy riches, though the loftiest state 

Would suit thee well; but be they small or great, 

Chance takes and brings them still with fickle wing — 

To-day a beggar, yesterday a king. 

Why name each good? Each has its little day; 

Gifts of the soul alone defy decay. 

I live of friends, of country, home, bereft, — 

All I could lose, but genius still is left ; 

This is my solace, this my constant friend; 

Ere this be reached e'en Caesar's power must end. 

It is needless to go on in detail through what remains of 
the " Sorrows." The tenth poem of the fourth book should 
be mentioned as being a brief autobiography of the poet. 
Elsewhere he pursues, with an iteration which would be w^eary- 
ing in the extreme but for his marvellous power of saying the 
same thing in many ways, the old subjects. The hardships 
of his lot, the fidelity or faithfulness of his friends, the solace 
which art supplied him, and the effort to discover some way 
of propitiating those who held his fate in their hands, — these 
topics occupy in turn his pen. The following elegant transla- 
tion by the late Mr. Philip Stanhope Worsley, of one of the 
latest poems of the book, may serve as a good specimen of 
his verse : — 

" Study the mournful hours away. 

Lest in dull sloth thy spirit pine;" 
Hard words thou writest: verse is gay. 

And asks a lighter heart than mine. 

No calms my stormy life beguile. 

Than mine can be no sadder chance; 
You bid bereaved Priam smile, 

And Niobe, the childless, dance. 

Is grief or study more my part. 
Whose lief is doomed to wilds like these? 

Though you should make my feeble heart 
Strong with the strength of Socrates, 


SucH ruin would crush wisdom down ; 

Stronger than man is wrath divine. 
That sage, whom Phcebus gave the crown, 

Never could write in grief like mine. 

Can I my land and thee forget, 
Nor the felt sorrow wound my breast? 

Say that I can — but foes beset 
This place, and rob me of all rest. 

Add that my mind hath rusted now, 
And fallen far from what it was. 

The land, though rich, that lacks the plough 
Is barren, save of thorns and grass. 

The horse, that long hath idle stood, 
Is soon o'ertaken in the race ; 

And, torn from its familiar flood. 
The chinky pinnace rots apace. 

Nor hope that I, before but mean, 
Can to my former self return ; 

Long sense of ills hath bruised my brain. 
Half the old fires no longer burn. 

Yet oft I take the pen and try, 

As now, to build the measured rhyme. 

Words come not, or, as meet thine eye. 
Words worthy of their place and time. 

Last, glory cheers the heart that fails. 
And love of praise inspires the mind — 

I followed once Fame's star, my sails 
Filled with a favourable wind: 

But now 'tis not so well with me, 
To care if fame be lost or won: 

Nay, but I would, if that might be. 
Live all unknown beneath the sun. 

The Letters from the Pontus 

The *' Letters " number forty-four in all, and are con- 
tained in four books. They are arranged in chronological 


order — an order, however, which is not absolutely exact. The 
earliest of them dates from the same year to which the fifth 
book of the " Sorrows" is to be attributed. In the prefatory 
epistle, addressed to Brutus — a relative, it is probable, of the 
famous tyrannicide — the poet tells his friend that he will find 
the new book as full of sorrows as its predecessor. It con- 
tains, however, not a few indications that his position had 
been somewhat changed — and changed for the better. 

He had not ventured to prefix to the various poems of 
w^hich the " Sorrows " were made up the names of those to 
w'hom they were addressed. This he does not now scruple to 
do ; and we find accordingly that, instead of the two or three 
who, he complains in the earlier book, had alone been left to 
him out of a crowd of companions, there was no inconsider- 
able number of friends who were willing to remember, and 
even, if it might be, to help him. We may count as many 
as twenty names ; not reckoning Germanicus Caesar, to wdiom 
Ovid addresses a complimentary letter, and Cotys, a tribu- 
tary king, the boundaries of whose dominions w^ere not far 
from Tomi. 

While the revival of these old friendships consoled the 
poet, and even buoyed him up with hopes that his banishment 
might be terminated, or at least mitigated, by a change of 
scene, the place itself was becoming (though, indeed, he is 
scarcely willing to allow it) less odious to him: its semi-bar- 
barous inhabitants were not insensible to the honour of hav- 
ing so distinguished a resident among them ; and his own 
behaviour, as he tells one of his correspondents, had made a 
favourable impression on them. " They would rather that I 
left them," he says, " because they see that I wish to do so ; 
but as far as regards themselves, they like me to be here. Do 
not take all this on my word ; you may see the decrees of the 
town, which speak in my praise, and make me free of all 
taxes. Such honours are scarcely suitable to a miserable fugi- 
tive like myself; but the neighbouring towns have bestowed 
on me the same privilege." The sympathising people might 
well complain that their kindness w^as repaid with ingratitude, 
when their fellow-townsman continued to speak with unmiti- 
gated abhorrence of the place to which he had been con- 


demned. "I care for nothing," he says, still harping on the 
constant theme of his verse, to one of his distant friends, 
"but to get out of this place. Even the Styx — if there is a 
Styx — would be a good exchange for the Danube; yes, and 
anything, if such the world contain, that is below the Styx 
itself. The plough-land less hates the weed, the swallow less 
hates the frost, than Naso hates the regions which border on 
the war-loving Getae. Such words as these make the people 
of Tomi wroth with me. The public anger is stirred up by 
my verse. Shall I never cease to be injured by my song? 
Shall I always suffer from my imprudent genius? Why do 
I hesitate to lop off my fingers, and so make writing impos- 
sible? why do I take again, in my folly, to the warfare which 
has damaged me before? Yet I have done no wrong. It is 
no fault of mine, men of Tomi ; you I love, though I cordially 
hate your country. Let any one search the record of my toils 
— there is no letter in complaint of you. It is the cold — it is 
the attack that we have to dread on all sides — it is the assaults 
that the enemy make on our walls, that I complain of. It 
was against the place, not against the people, that I made the 
charge. You yourselves often blame your own country. 
. . . It is a malicious interpreter that stirs up the anger 
of the people against me, and brings a new charge against 
my verse. I wish that I was as fortunate as I am honest in 
heart. There does not live a man whom my words have 
wronged. Nay, were I blacker than Illyrian pitch, I could 
not wrong so loyal a people as you. The kindness with which 
you have received me in my troubles shows, men of Tomi, 
that a people so gentle must be genuine Greeks.^ My own 
people, the Peligni, and Sulmo, the land of my home, could 
not have behaved more kindly in my troubles. Honours which 
you would scarcely give to the prosperous and unharmed, 
you have lately bestowed upon me. I am. the only inhabitant 
— one only excepted, who held the privilege of legal right — 
that has been exempted from public burdens. My temples 
have been crowned with the sacred chaplet, lately voted to 

1 This was a compliment which would be certain to please a half- 
bred population like that of the old colony. 


me, against my will, by the favour of the people. Dear, then, 
as to Latona was that Delian land, the only spot which gave 
a safe refuge to the wanderer, so dear is Tomi to me — Tomi 
which down to this day remains a faithful host to one who 
has been banished from his native land ! If only the gods 
had granted that it might have some hope of peace and quiet, 
and that it were a little further removed from the frosts of 
the pole!" 

The poet, though he could not restrain or moderate his 
complaints about the miseries of his exile, did his best to make 
a return for these honours and hospitalities. " I am ashamed 
to say it," he writes to Carus, a scholar of distinction, whc 
had been appointed tutor to the children of Germanicus, "but 
I have written a book in the language of the Getse; I have 
arranged their barbarous words in Roman measures. I was 
happy enough to please (congratulate me on the success) ; 
nay, I begin to have the reputation of a poet among these 
uncivilised Getae. Do you ask me my subject? I sang the 
praises of Caesar. I was assisted in my novel attempt by the 
power of the god. I told them how that the body of Father 
Augustus was mortal, while his divinity had departed to the 
dwellings of heaven. I told them how there was one equal 
in virtue to his father, who, under compulsion, had assumed 
the reigns of an empire which he had often refused. I told 
them that thou, Livia, art the Vesta of modest matrons, of 
whom it cannot be determined whether thou art more worthy 
of thy husband or thy son. I told them that there were two 
youths, firm supporters of their father, who have given some 
pledges of their spirit. When I had read this to the end, 
written as it was in the verse of another tongue, and the last 
page had been turned by my fingers, all nodded their heads, 
all shook their full quivers, and a prolonged murmur of ap- 
plause came from the Getic crowd; and some cried, 'Since 
you write such things about Caesar, you should have been re- 
stored to Csesar's empire.' So he spake ; but alas, my Carus ! 
the sixth winter sees me still an exile beneath the snowy sky." 

It is to this subject of his exile that in the " Letters," as 
in the " Sorrows," he returns with a mournful and wearisome 
iteration. The greater number of them belong to the fifty-fifth 


and fifty-sixth years of the poet's life. The fifth of the last 
book, for instance, is addressed to " Sextus Pompeius, now 
Consul." Pompeius, who was collaterally related to the great 
rival of Caesar, entered on his consulship on January ist, 
A.D. 14. "Go, trivial elegy, to our consul's learned ears! 
take words for that honoured man to read. The way is long, 
and you go with halting feet.^ And the earth lies hidden, 
covered with snows of winter. When you shall have crossed 
frosty Thrace, and Hsenus covered with clouds, and the wa- 
ters of the Ionian Sea, you will come to the imperial city in 
less than ten days, even though you do not hasten your 

The letter marks the time at which Ovid's hopes of par- 
don had risen to their highest. Powerful friends had inter- 
ceded for him ; with one of them advanced to the consulship — 
a token of high favour, though nothing but a shadow of 
power — he might hope for the best. And it is probable, as 
has been before explained, that Augustus was at this very 
time meditating nothing less than another disposition of the 
imperial power, — a disposition which would have reinstated 
in their position his own direct descendants, and with them 
have restored the fortunes of Ovid. These hopes were to be 
disappointed. On the 29th of August in the same year, Au- 
gustus died at Nola, in Campania. There were some who 
declared that his end was at least hastened by Livia, deter- 
mined to secure at any price the prospects of her son Tibe- 
rius. As the emperor had completed his seventy-sixth year, 
it is unnecessary thus to account for a death which, though 
it may have been opportune, was certainly to be expected. 

On Ovid's fortunes the effect was disastrous. The very 
next letter is that which has been already quoted as deplor- 
ing the death of Augustus at the very time when he was be- 
ginning to entertain milder thoughts, and the ruin which had 
overtaken his old friend and patron, Fabius Maximus. Ovid, 
however, did not yet abandon all hope. To address directly 

^ This is a favourite witticism with Ovid. The elegiac couplet was 
made up of two feet of unequal length — the hexameter or six-foot, 
and the pentameter or five-foot verse. Hence it was said to halt. 


Tiberius or Livia seemed useless. His thoughts turned to 
the young Germanicus, Tiberius's nephew, whose wife was 
Agrippina, daughter of the elder and sister of the younger 
Julia. Among the friends of this prince, who was then in 
command of the armies of the Rhine — and, though an object 
of suspicion to his uncle and adopting father, high in popular 
favour — was P. Suillius Rufus. Suillius was closely con- 
nected with Ovid, whose step-daughter (the daughter of his 
third wife) he had married. He must then have been a young 
man, as it is more than forty years afterwards that we hear 
of his being banished by Nero ; and he filled the part of quaes- 
tor (an office of a financial kind) on the staff of Germanicus. 
" If you shall feel a hope," Ovid writes, " that anything can 
be done by prayer, entreat with suppliant voice the gods whom 
you worship. Thy gods are the youthful Ccesar; make pro- 
pitious these by deities. Surely no altar is more familiar to 
you than this. That does not allow the prayers of any of its 
ministers to be in vain ; from hence seek thou help for my 
fortunes. If it should help, with however small a breeze, my 
sinking boat will rise again from the midst of the waters. 
Thou wilt bring due incense to the devouring flames, and 
testify how strong the gods can be." The writer then ad- 
dresses, and continues to address throughout the rest of the 
letter, Germanicus himself, for whose eye it was of course in- 
tended, and before whom Suillius is entreated in the conclud- 
ing couplet by his " almost father-in-law," as Ovid quaintly 
calls himself, to bring it. 

Another friend, whose intercession in the same quarter 
the poet entreats, is Cams — tutor, as has been said before, to 
the sons of Germanicus. This letter was written in " the sixth 
winter of exile " — i.e., about the end of a.d. 14 or the begin- 
ning of 15 — the time to which we are to ascribe the poem in 
the Getic language, on the death and deification of Augustus. 
Shortly afterwards must have been written a letter addressed 
to Graecinus, who filled the office of consul during the second 
half of the latter year. Here we see the most humiliating 
phase of Ovid's servility. It is difficult to understand how 
little more than fifty years after the republic had ceased to 
exist, an Italian of the Italians, one of that hardy Samnite 


race which had so long contended on equal terms with Rome 
itself, could be found descending to such depths of degrada- 
tion. The servile multitudes of Egypt and Assyria had never 
prostrated themselves more ignobly before Sesostris or Nim- 
rod than did this free-born citizen before the men who were 
so relentlessly persecuting him. He tells his powerful friend 
that his piety was known to the whole country. " This stran- 
ger land sees that there is in my dwelling a chapel to Caesar. 
There stand along with him his pious son and his priestess 
spouse, powers not inferior to the already perfected deity. 
And that no part of the family should be wanting, there stand 
both his grandsons, the one close to his grandmother's, and 
the other to his father's side. To these I address words of 
prayer with an offering of incense as often as the day arises 
from the eastern sky." ^ 

Two years before, we find him thanking his friend Maxi- 
mus Cotta for a present of the statues which this chapel en- 
shrined. He mentions three as the number which had been 
sent. (The images of the two young princes had since been 
added.) In this letter he seems to lose himself in transports 
of gratitude. " He is no longer an exile at the ends of the 
earth. He is a prosperous dweller in the midst of the capital. 
He sees the faces of the Caesars. Such happiness he had never 
ventured to hope for." And so he treads the well-worn round 
of customary adulation. A short specimen will be enough to 
show to what depths he could descend. " Happy they who 
look not on the likenesses but on the reality; who see before 
their eyes the very bodies of the god ! Since a hard fate has 
denied me this privilege, I worship those whom art has granted 
to my prayer — the likeness of the true. 'Tis thus men know 
the gods, whom the heights of heaven conceal; 'tis thus that 
the shape of Jupiter is worshipped for Jupiter himself." And 
then, anxious not to forget the practical object to which all 

iJt may be as well to explain that by Caesar is meant Augustus 
(who is now dead), and by the " pious son " Tiberius. Livia, as the 
widow of the deified prince, was the priestess of his worship; the 
two grandsons are Drusus, son of Tiberius, who stands by his grand- 
mother Livia — and Germanicus, who stands by his adopting father 


these elaborate flatteries are directed, he goes on : " Take 
care that this semblance of yours which is with me, shall ever 
be with me, be not found in a hostile spot. My head shall 
sooner part from the neck, the eye shall sooner leave the man- 
gled cheeks, than I should bear your loss, O Deities of the 
Commonwealth! you shall be the harbour and the sanctuary 
of my banishment. You will embrace, if I be surrounded by 
Getic arms. You, as my eagles and my standards, I will fol- 
low. If I am not deceived and cheated by too powerful a 
desire, the hope of a happier place of exile is at hand. The 
look upon your likeness is less and less gloomy ; the face seems 
to give assent to my prayer. I pray that the presages of my 
anxious heart may be true, and that the anger of my god, 
however just it is, may yet be mitigated." 

It is difficult to conceive a more pitiable sight than that 
of the wretched exile day after day going through, with sink- 
ing hopes and failing spirits, this miserable pretence of wor- 
ship ; prostrating himself before men whose baseness and 
profligacy no one knew better than himself, and, while he 
crushed down the curses that rose naturally to his lips, reiter- 
ating the lying prayer, for which he must have now despaired 
of an answer. That he should have performed this elaborate 
hypocrisy, not in public but in the privacy of his own home, 
merely for the sake of being able to say that he had done it, 
and with but the very dimmest hope of getting any good from 
it, is inexpressibly pitiable; and that it should be possible for 
a man of genius to stoop to such degradation, and for great 
princes, as Augustus and Tiberius certainly were, to be swayed 
in their purpose by such an exhibition — and that they might 
be swayed by it Ovid certainly believed — is a warning against 
the evils of despotic power such as it would not be easy to 

Of the literary merits of the " Letters from the Pontus " 
there is little to be said. The monotony of its subject was 
fatal to excellence. Ovid knew, at least as well as any man 
who ever wrote, how to say the same thing over and over 
again in different ways: but even his genius could not indefi- 
nitely vary his constant complaint that he was living among 
savages, and under an inhospitable sky; his constant prayer 


that he might be released from his gloomy prison, or, at least, 
transferred to a more genial spot. Nor does he vary his sub- 
ject with the episodical narratives in the telling of which he 
so much excelled. The story of Orestes and Pylades is the 
only specimen of the kind that occurs in the four books. It 
is so well known that a very few words may suffice for it. 
Orestes and P3dades land at Tauri, and, according to the cus- 
tom of the place, are seized and taken to the temple of Diana. 
There one of them must be offered to the goddess. Each is 
anxious to be the object of the fatal choice. While they are 
contending, they find that the priestess is the sister of Orestes, 
Iphigenia, who had been transported hither from the altar at 
Aulis, where she had been about to suffer a similar fate. By 
her help they escape. 

Ovid put this story into the mouth of an old native of the 
country, who speaks of having himself seen the temple where 
the incident happened, towering high with its vast columns, 
and approached by an ascent of twelve steps. 

The Ibis 

The " Ibis " is a poem of between six and seven hundred 
lines in length, containing almost as many imprecations, dis- 
playing in their variety an amazing fertility of imagination, 
which are directed against a personal enemy who had spoken 
ill of the poet in his banishment, had persecuted his wife with 
his attentions, and had endeavoured to snatch some plunder 
from his property. The person whom Ovid attacked under 
the name of Ibis is said to have been one Hyginus, a freedman 
of the Emperor Augustus, and chief of the Palatine Library. 

The poem is modelled, as Ovid himself states, on a poem 
of the same name which Callimachus wrote against a poet who 
had been his pupil, and afterwards became a rival — Apollo- 
nius Rhodius. 

The " Ibis " has the look of being a literary tour dc force. 
Callimachus was a favourite model with Roman authors, and 
Ovid probably amused some of the vacant hours of his exile 
with paraphrasing his poem. Every story of Greek myth- 
o\ogy, legend, and history is ransacked to furnish the curses 


which are heaped on the head of the luckless man. " May he 
fall over a staircase, as did Elpenor, the companion of 
Ulysses! May he be torn to pieces by a lioness, as was 
Phayllus, tyrant of Ambracia! May he be killed by a bee- 
sting in the eye, as was the poet Achaeus! May he be de- 
voured, as Glaucus was devoured, by his horses ; or leap, as 
did another Glaucus, into the sea ! ]May he drink, with trem- 
bling mouth, the same draught that Socrates drank, all undis- 
turbed ! May he perish caught by the hands, as was Milo in 
the oak which he tried to rend ! " These are a few, but, it 
will probably be thought, sufficient, examples of the " Ibis." 

Fragments and Lost Poems 

In his "Art of Love," Ovid tells his readers that he had 
written a book on " Cosmetics," which was small in size, but 
had cost him much pains. Of this book we have remaining 
a fragment of about a hundred lines. His instructions are 
eminently practical in character, — giving the ingredients, the 
proper weight, and the right manner of mixing them. His 
first recipe is for brightening the complexion. Take two 
pounds of barley, as much of bitter lupine, and ten eggs ; dry 
and then grind the substance. Add a sixth of a pound of 
stag's-horns ; they must be those shed by the animal for the 
first time. The mixture is to be passed through a sieve. 
Twelve narcissus-roots with the rind stripped off are to be 
pounded in a marble mortar ; add the sixth of a pound of 
gum, and as much spelt, with a pound and a half of honey. 
" Dress your face," says the poet, " with this, and you will 
have a complexion brighter than your mirror itself." What 
other secrets of beauty Ovid may have unfolded cannot be 
known, for here the fragment breaks ofif. 

About a hundred and thirty lines of a poem on "Fishing" 
have also survived ; but they are in a very broken condition, 
and a passage descriptive of land animals has somehow found 
its way into the midst of them. 

A poem called the " Walnut," in which the tree complains, 
among other things, of its hard lot in being pelted with stones 
by passers-by, has been attributed to Ovid. Some critics 


have supposed it to be a juvenile production, but the weight 
of authority is against its authenticity. 

In the tragedy of " Medea " the world has suffered a 
serious loss. Quintilian, a severe critic, says of it that it 
seemed to him to prove how much its author could have 
achieved, if he had chosen to moderate rather than to in- 
dulge his cleverness. He mentions in the same context the 
" Thyestes "of Varius, which might challenge comparison, 
he says, with any of the Greek tragedies. The two dramas 
are also coupled together by Tacitus in his " Dialogue about 
Famous Orators," where he compares the popularity of 
dramatic and oratorical works, just as we might couple to- 
gether "Hamlet" and "King Lear." The "Medea" has 
been altogether lost, but we may gather some idea of the 
manner in which the poet treated his subject from the seventh 
book of the "Metamorphoses," the first half of which is de- 
voted to the legend of the great Colchian sorceress. What 
portion of it was chosen for the subject of the drama we do 
not know; but it may be conjectured that while the "Medea" 
of Euripides depicted the last scenes of her career, when she 
avenged the infidelity of Jason by the murder of her children, 
Ovid represents her at an earlier time, when, as the daughter 
of King ^etes, she loved and helped the gallant leader of the 

Death of Ovid 

The last lines written by Ovid are probably some which 
we find in the " Fasti " under the first of June, praising Tibe- 
rius for the pious work which he had accomplished in re- 
building and dedicating various temples at Rome. These 
temples were dedicated, as we learn from Tacitus, in a.d. 17. 
The poet died, St. Jerome tells us, in the same year, some 
time before September, from which month, in Jerome's 
chronicle, the years are reckoned. It had been his earnest 
wish that the sentence which had been so rigorously executed 
against him during his life might at least be relaxed after his 
death, and that his bones might be permitted to rest in his 
native Italy. The desire was not granted : he was buried at 
Tomi. A pretended discovery of his tomb was made early 


in the sixteenth century at Stainz, in Austria, — a place far too 
remote from Tomi to make the story at all probable. If his 
body could have been transported so far, why not to Italy? 
The story appeared in another edition; the tomb and its 
epitaph were the same, as was also the year of the discovery, 
but the place was now Sawar, in Lower Hungary. It may 
probably be put down as one of the impostures, more or less 
ingenious, with which scholars have often amused themselves, 
and of which the period following the revival of learning — a 
period during which genuine discoveries of classical remains 
were frequently made — was particularly fertile. As recently 
as the beginning of this century, it was announced in some of 
the Parisian papers that the Russian troops, while engaged 
in building a fortress on the banks of the Danube, had opened 
the poet's sepulchre, and had named the place Ovidopol, in 
his honour. Unfortunately it turned out that the fortress 
had never been built, or even commenced; and that the local 
name of Lagone Ovidouloni (which, to give a colour to the 
story, had been changed into Lacus Ovidoli) owed its origin, 
not to any remembrance of Ovid, but to the practice of w^ash- 
ing there the sheep (Lat. avis') which were exported in large 
numbers from Moldavia for the consumption of Constanti- 
nople. We may dismiss as equally apocryphal the story of 
the silver writing-style of the poet, which was shown in 1540 
to Isabella, Queen of Hungary, as having been recently dis- 
covered at Belgrade, the ancient Taunmum. 

General Observations 

Quintilian says that Ovid w^as too much in love with his 
own cleverness, but that he was in some respects worthy of 
commendation. Lord Macaulay confirms, or perhaps am- 
plifies, this judgment, when he says that Ovid "had two in- 
supportable faults: the one is, that he will always be clever; 
the other, that he never knows when to have done." Of the 
" Metamorphoses " the same great critic wrote : " There are 
some very fine things in this poem; and in ingenuity, and the 
art of doing difficult things in expression and versification as 
if they were the easiest in the world, Ovid is quite incom- 

XI— 22 


parable." He thought that the best parts of the work were 
the second book, and the first half of the thirteenth book, 
where, in the oratorical contest between Ajax and Ulysses 
for the arms of Achilles, his own tastes were doubtless sat- 
isfied. The severest criticism which he passes upon the poet 
is when he pronounces the "Art of Love" to be his best 

If popularity is a test of merit, Ovid must be placed very 
high among the writers of antiquity. No classical poet has 
been so widely and so continuously read. He seems not to 
have been forgotten even when learning and the taste for 
literature were at their lowest ebb. Among the stories which 
attest the favour in which he was held may be quoted the 
words which are reported to have been used by Alphonso, 
surnamed the Magnanimous. That eccentric prince, who 
may be called the Pyrrhus of modern history, while prose- 
cuting his conquests in Italy, came to the town of Sulmo, 
which has been mentioned as Ovid's birthplace. " Willingly 
would I yield this region, which is no small or contemptible 
part of the kingdom of Naples, could it have been granted to 
my times to possess this poet. Even dead I hold him to be 
of more account than the possession of the whole of Apulia." 

The bibliography of Ovid, as a writer in the " Nouvelle 
Biographic Universelle " remarks, is immense. Two folio 
volumes of the " New Catalogue of the British Museum" are 
devoted to an enumeration of editions and translations of the 
whole or various parts of his works. 

It was not altogether a bad character which has been 
thus summed up by Lord Macaulay: "He seems to have 
been a very good fellow ; rather too fond of women ; a flatterer 
and a coward: but kind and generous; and free from envy, 
though a man of letters, and though sufficiently vain of his 
own performances." 




My design leads me to speak of forms changed into new bodies. 
Ye Gods (for you it was who changed them), favour my attempts, 
and bring down the lengthened narrative from the very beginning 
of the world, even to my own times. 


God reduces Chaos into order. He separates the four ele- 
ments, and disposes the several bodies, of which the universe 
is formed, into their proper situations. 

At first, the sea, the earth, and the heaven, which covers 
all things, were the only face of nature throughout the whole 
universe, which men have named Chaos ; a rude and undi- 
gested mass, and nothing more than an inert weight, and the 
discordant atoms of things not harmonizing, heaped together 
in the same spot. No Sun as yet gave light to the world ; nor 
did the Moon, by increasing, recover her horns anew. The 
Earth did not as yet hang in the surrounding air, balanced 
by its own weight, nor had Amphitrite ^ stretched out her 
arms along the lengthened margin of the coasts. Wherever, 
too, was the. land, there also was the sea and the air; and thus 
was the earth without firmness, the sea unnavigable, the air 
void of Hght ; in no one of them did its present form exist. 
And one was ever obstructing the other ; because in the same 
body the cold was striving with the hot, the moist with the dry, 

^ She was the daughter of Oceanus and Doris, and the wife of Nep- 
tune, God of the Sea. Being the Goddess of the Ocean, her name is 
here used to signify the ocean itself. 


328 OVID 

the soft with the hard, things having weight with those devoid 
of weight. 

To this discord God and bounteous Nature put an end; 
for he separated the earth from the heavens, and the waters 
from the earth, and distinguished the clear heavens from the 
gross atmosphere. And after he had unravelled these ele- 
ments, and released them from that confused heap, he com- 
bined them, thus disjoined, in harmonious unison, each in its 
proper place. The element of the vaulted heaven,^ fiery and 
without weight, shone forth, and selected a place for itself in 
the highest region : next after it, both in lightness and in place, 
was the air ; the Earth was more weighty than these, and drew 
with it the more ponderous atoms, and was pressed together 
by its own gravity. The encircling waters sank to the lower- 
most place, and surrounded the solid globe. 


After the separation of matter, God gives form and regularity 
to the universe; and all other living creatures i)eing pro- 
duced, Prometheus moulds earth tempered with water, into 
a human form, zvhich is animated by Minerva. 

When thus he, whoever of the Gods he was, had divided 
the mass so separated, and reduced it, so divided, into dis- 
tinct members ; in the first place, that it might not be unequal 
on any side, he gathered it up into the form of a vast globe; 
then he commanded the sea to be poured around it, and to 
grow boisterous with the raging winds, and to surround the 
shores of the Earth, encompassed by it; he added also springs, 
and numerous pools and lakes, and he bounded the rivers as 
they flowed downwards, with slanting banks. These, different 
in different places, are some of them swallowed up by the 

1 This is a periphrasis, signifying the empyrean, or region of the 
firmament or upper air, in which the sun and stars move ; which was 
supposed to be of the purest fire and the source of all flame. The 
heavens are called " convex," from being supposed to assume the 
same shape as the terrestrial globe which they surround. 


Earth itself; some of them reach the ocean, and, received in 
the expanse of waters that take a freer range, beat against 
shores instead of banks. 

He commanded the plains, too, to be extended, the valleys 
to sink down, the woods to be clothed with green leaves, the 
craggy mountains to arise; and, as on the right-hand side, 
two Zones intersect the heavens, and as many on the left; and 
as there is a fifth hotter than these,^ so did the care of the 
Deity distinguish this enclosed mass of the Earth by the same 
number, and as many climates are marked out upon the 
Earth. Of these, that which is the middle one is not habitable 
on account of the heat; deep snow covers two of them. Be- 
tween either these he placed as many more, and gave them a 
temperate climate, heat being mingled with cold. 

Over these hangs the air, which is heavier than fire, in 
the same degree that the weight of water is lighter than the 
weight of the Earth. Here he ordered vapours, here too, the 
clouds to take their station; the thunder, too, to terrify the 
minds of mortals, and with the lightnings, the w^inds that 
bring on cold. The Contriver of the World did not allow 
these indiscriminately to take possession oT the sky. Even 
now, (although they each of them govern their own blasts 
in a distinct tract) they are with great difficulty prevented 
from rending the world asunder, so great is the discord of 
the brothers." Eurus took his way towards the rising of 
Aurora and the realms of Nabath [Arabia] and Persia, and 
the mountain ridges exposed to the rays of the morning. 
The Evening star, and the shores which are warm with the 
setting sun, are bordering upon Zephyrus. The terrible 
Boreas invaded Scythia, and the regions of the North. The 
opposite quarter is wet with continual clouds, and the driz- 

^ The " right hand " here refers to the northern part of the globe, 
and the " left hand " to the southern. He here speaks of the five 
zones into which astronomers have divided the heavens : the tropical 
zone, the northern and southern equinoctial zones, and the northern 
and southern polar zones. These severally correspond to the torrid, 
temperate, and frigid zones on the earth. 

^ That is, the winds, who, according to the Theogony of Hesiod, 
were the sons of Astreus, the giant, and Aurora. 

330 OVID 

zling South Wind. Over these he placed the firmament, 
clear and devoid of gravity, and not containing anything of 
the dregs of earth. 

Scarcely had he separated all these by fixed limits, when the 
stars, which had long lain hid, concealed beneath that mass of 
Chaos, began to glow through the range of the heavens. 
And that no region might be destitute of its own peculiar ani- 
mated beings, the stars ^ and the forms of the Gods^ possess 
the tract of heaven; the waters fell to be inhabited by the 
smooth fishes; the Earth received the wild beasts, and the 
yielding air the birds. 

But an animated being, more holy than these, more fitted 
to receive higher faculties, and which could rule over the 
rest, was still wanting. Then Man was formed. Whether 
it was that the Artificer of all things, the original of the world 
in its improved state, framed him from divine elements; or 
whether, the Earth, being newly made, and but lately divided 
from the lofty aether, still retained some atoms of its kin- 
dred heaven, which, tempered with the waters of the stream, 
the son of lapetus fashioned after the image of the Gods, who 
rule over all things. And, whereas other animals bend their 
looks downwards upon the Earth, to Man he gave a counte- 
nance to look on high and to behold the heavens, and to raise 
his face erect to the stars. Thus, that which had been lately 
rude earth, and without any regular shape, being changed, 
assumed the form of Man, till then unknown. 


The formation of man is followed by a succession of the four 
ages of the world. The first is the Golden Age, during 
which Innocence and Justice alone govern the zvorld. 

The Golden Age was first founded, which, without any 
avenger, of its own accord, without laws, practised both faith 
and rectitude. Punishment, and the fear of it, did not exist, 
and threatening decrees were not read upon the brazen tables, 

1 According to the Platonic philosophers, stars were either intelligent 
beings, or guided and actuated by such. 


fixed up to view, nor yet did the suppliant multitude dread 
the countenance of its judge; but all were in safety without 
any avenger. The pine-tree, cut from its native mountains, 
had not yet descended to the flowing waves, that it might 
visit a foreign region; and mortals were acquainted with no 
shores beyond their own. Not as yet did deep ditches sur- 
round the towns; no trumpets of straightened, or clarions of 
crooked brass, no helmets, no swords then existed. With- 
out occasion for soldiers, the minds of men, free from care, 
enjoyed an easy tranquillity. 

The Earth itself, too, in freedom, untouched by the har- 
row, and wounded by no ploughshares, of its own accord pro- 
duced everything; and men, contented with the food created 
under no compulsion, gathered the fruit of the arbute-tree, 
and the strawberries of the mountain, and cornels, and black- 
berries adhering to the prickly bramble-bushes, and acorns 
which had fallen from the wide-spreading tree of Jove. Then 
it was an eternal spring; and the gentle Zephyrs, with their 
soothing breezes, cherished the flowTrs produced without 
any seed. Soon, too, the Earth unploughed yielded crops of 
grain, and the land, without being renewed, was whitened with 
the heavy ears of corn. Then, rivers of milk, then, rivers of 
nectar were flowing, and the yellow honey was distilled from 
the green holm oak. 


In the Silver Age, men begin not to he so just, nor, conse- 
quently, so happy, as in the Golden Age. In the Braaen 
Age, which succeeds, they become yet less virtuous; but 
their zuickedness does not rise to its highest pitch until the 
Iron Age, zvhen if makes its appearance in all its deformity. 

Afterwards (Saturn being driven into the shady realms 
of Tartarus), the world was under the sway of Jupiter; then 
the Silver Age succeeded, inferior to that of gold, but more 
precious than that of yellow brass. Jupiter shortened the 
duration of the former spring, and divided the year into four 
periods by means of winters, and summers, and unsteady au- 
tumns, and short springs. Then, for the first time, did the 
parched air glow with sultr}- heat, and the ice, bound up by the 

332 OVID 

winds, was pendant. Then, for the first time, did men enter 
houses; those houses were caverns, and thick shrubs, and 
twigs fastened together with bark. Then, for the first time, 
were the seeds of Ceres buried in long furrows, and the oxen 
groaned, pressed by the yoke of the ploughshare. 

The Age of Brass succeeded, as the third in order, after 
these; fiercer in disposition, and more prone to horrible war- 
fare, but yet free from impiety. The last Age was of hard 
iron. Immediately every species of crime burst forth, in 
this age of degenerated tendencies ; modesty, truth, and honour 
took flight; in their place succeeded fraud, deceit, treachery, 
violence, and the cursed hankering for acquisition. The 
sailor now spread his sails to the winds, and with these, as 
yet, he was but little acquainted; and the trees, which had 
long stood on the lofty mountains, now, as ships, bounded 
through the unknown waves. The ground, too, hitherto com- 
mon as the light of the sun and the breezes, the cautious meas- 
urer marked out with his lengthened boundary. 

And not only was the rich soil required to furnish corn 
and due sustenance, but men even descended into the entrails 
of the Earth ; and riches were dug up, the incentives to vice, 
which the Earth had hidden, and had removed to the Stygian 
shades. Then destructive iron came forth, and gold, more 
destructive than iron ; then War came forth, the fights through 
the means of both, and that brandishes in his blood-stained 
hands the clattering arms. Men live by rapine; the guest is 
not safe from his entertainer, nor the father-in-law from the 
son-in-law; good feeling, too, between brothers is a rarity. 
The husband is eager for the death of the wife, she for that 
of her husband. Horrible step-mothers then mingle the 
ghastly wolfsbane; the son prematurely makes inquiry of 
astrologers into the years of his father. Piety lies vanquished, 
and the virgin Astraea ^ is the last of the heavenly Deities to 
abandon the Earth, now drenched in slaughter. 

1 The daughter of Astrseus and Aurora, or of Jupiter and Themis, 
and was the Goddess of Justice. On leaving the earth, she was 
supposed to have taken her place among the stars as the Constel- 
lation of the Virgin. 



The Giants having attempted to render themselves masters of 
heaven, Jupiter buries them under the mountains which they 
have heaped together to facilitate their assault; and the 
Earth, animating their blood, forms out of it a crude and 
■fierce generation of men. 

And that the lofty realms of aether might not be more safe 
than the Earth, they say that the Giants aspired to the sov- 
ereignty of Heaven, and piled the mountains, heaped together, 
even to the lofty stars. Then the omnipotent Father, hurling 
his lightnings, broke through Olympus, and struck Ossa away 
from Pelion, that lay beneath it/ While the dreadful car- 
casses lay overwhelmed beneath their own structure, they 
say that the Earth was wet, drenched with the plenteous blood 
of her sons, and that she gave life to the warm gore; and 
that, lest no memorial of this ruthless race should be surviv- 
ing, she shaped them into the form of men. But that gener- 
ation, too, was a despiser of the Gods above, and most greedy 
of ruthless slaughter, and full of violence: you might see that 
they derived their origin from blood. 


Jupiter, having seen the crimes of this impious race of men, 
calls a council of the Gods, and determines to destroy 
the world. 

When the Father of the Gods, the son of Saturn, beheld 
this from his loftiest height, he groaned aloud ; and recalling 
to memory the polluted banquet on the table of Lycaon, not 
yet publicly known, from the crime being but lately com- 
mitted, he conceives in his mind vast wrath, and such as is 

^ Olympus was a mountain between Thessaly and Macedonia. Pelion 
was a mountain of Thessaly, towards the Pelasgic gulf; and Ossa 
was a mountain between Olympus and Pelion. These the Giants are 
said to have heaped one on another, in order to scale heaven. 

334 OVID 

worthy of Jove, and calls together a council; no delay detains 
them, thus summoned. 

There is a way on high, easily seen in a clear sky, and 
which, remarkable for its very whiteness, receives the name of 
the Milky Way. Along this is the way for the Gods above to 
the abode of the great Thunderer and his royal palace. On 
the right and on the left side the courts of the ennobled 
Deities^ are thronged, with open gates. The Gods of lower 
rank inhabit various places ; in front of the Way, the powerful 
and illustrious inhabitants of Heaven have established their 
residence. This is the place which, if boldness may be al- 
lowed to my expressions, I should not hesitate to style the 
palatial residence of Heaven. When, therefore, the Gods 
above had taken their seats in the marble hall of assembly; 
he himself, elevated on his seat, and leaning on his sceptre of 
ivory, three or four times shook the awful locks of his head, 
with which he makes the Earth, the Seas, and the Stars to 
tremble. Then, after such manner as this, did he open his 
indignant lips ; — 

" Not even at that time was I more concerned for the 
empire of the universe, when each of the snake-footed 
monsters was endeavouring to lay his hundred arms on the 
captured skies. For although that was a dangerous enemy, 
yet that war was with but one stock, and sprang from a 
single origin. Now must the race of mortals be cut off by 
me, wherever Nereus" roars on all sides of the earth; this I 
swear by the Rivers of Hell, that glide in the Stygian grove 
beneath the earth. All methods have been already tried ; but 
a wound that admits of no cure, must be cut away with the 
knife, that the sound parts may not be corrupted. I have as 
subjects. Demigods, and I have the rustic Deities, the Nymphs, 
and the Fauns, and the Satyrs, and the Sylvans, the inhabi- 
tants of the mountains; these, though as yet, we have not 

1 These were the superior Deities, who formed the privy councillors 
of Jupiter. Reckoning Jupiter, they were twelve in number, and are 
enumerated by Ennius in two limping hexameter lines: — 

" Juno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars, 
Mercurius, Jovis, Neptunis, Vulcanus, Apollo." 

2 The son of Oceanus and Tethys, here representing the ocean. 


thought them worthy of the honour of Heaven, let us, at least, 
permit to inhabit the earth which we have granted them. 
And do you, ye Gods of Heaven, believe that they will be in 
proper safety, when Lycaon, remarkable for his cruelty, has 
formed a plot against even me, who own and hold sway over 
the thunder and yourselves?" 

All shouted their ascent aloud, and with ardent zeal they 
called for vengeance on one who dared such crimes. Thus, 
when an impious band ^ madly raged to extinguish the Roman 
name in the blood of Caesar, the human race was astonished 
with sudden terror at ruin so universal, and the whole earth 
shook with horror. Nor was the affectionate regard, Augus- 
tus, of thy subjects less grateful to thee, than that was to 
Jupiter. Who, after he had, by means of his voice and his 
hand, suppressed their murmurs, all of them kept silence. 
Soon as the clamour had ceased, checked by the authority of 
their ruler, Jupiter again broke silence in these words : 

" He, indeed, (dismiss your cares) has suffered dire pun- 
ishment ; but what was the offence and what the retribution, 
I will inform you. The report of the iniquity of the age had 
reached my ears; wishing to find this not to be the truth, I 
descended from the top of Olympus, and, a God in a human 
shape, I surveyed the earth. 'Twere an endless task to enu- 
merate how great an amount of guilt was everywhere dis- 
covered; the report itself was below the truth." 


Lycaon, king of Arcadia, in order to discover if it is Jupiter 
himself who has come to lodge in his palace, orders the 
body of an hostage, zvho had been sent to him, to be dressed 
and served up at a feast. The God, as a punishment, 
changes him into a wolf. 

I HAD now passed Msenalus, to be dreaded for its dens of 
beasts of prey, and the pine-groves of cold Lycccus," together 

1 Ovid here refers to the conspiracy against Augustus, which is men- 
tioned by Suetonius. 

2 A mountain of Arcadia, sacred to Pan. 

336 OVID 

with Cyllene/ After this, I entered the realms and the inhos- 
pitable abode of the Arcadian tyrant, just as the late twilight 
was bringing on the night. I gave a signal that a God had 
come, and the people commenced to pay their adorations. In 
the first place, Lycaon derided their pious supplications. 
Afterwards, he said, I will make trial, by a plain proof, 
whether this is a God, or whether he is a mortal; nor shall 
the truth remain a matter of doubt. He then makes prepara- 
tions to destroy me, when sunk in sleep, by an unexpected 
death; this mode of testing the truth pleases him. And not 
content with that, with the sword he cuts the throat of an 
hostage that had been sent from the nation of the Molossians,^ 
and then softens part of the quivering limbs in boiling water, 
and part he roasts with fire placed beneath. Soon as he had 
placed these on the table, I, with avenging flames, overthrew 
the house upon the household Gods,^ worthy of the master. 
Alarmed, he himself takes to flight, and having reached the 
solitude of the country, he howls aloud, and in vain attempts 
to speak; his mouth gathers rage from himself, and through 
its usual desire for slaughter, it is directed against the sheep, 
and even still delights in blood. His garments are changed 
into hair, his arms into legs; he becomes a wolf, and he 
still retains vestiges of his ancient form. His hoariness is 
still the same, the same violence appears in his features; his 
eyes are bright as before ; he is still the same image of ferocity. 
" Thus fell one house ; but one house alone did not deserve 
to perish; wherever the earth extends, the savage Erinnys* 
reigns. You would suppose that men had conspired to be 

^ A mountain of Arcadia, sacred to Mercury, who was hence called 

by the poets Cyllenius. 

*The Molossi were a people of Epirus, on the eastern side of the 

Ambracian gulf. Ovid here commits an anachronism, as the name 

was derived from Molossus, the son of Neoptolemus, long after the 

time of Lycaon. 

' i. e., for taking such a miscreant under their protection. 

* Erinnys was a general name given to the Furies by the Greeks. 

They were three in number — Alecto, Tisiphon, and Megsera. These 

were so called from the Greek eris nou, " the discord of the mind," 

because they punished wrong-doers with remorse and insanity. 


wicked; let all men speedily feel that vengeance which they 
deserve to endure, for such is my determination." 


Jupiter, not thinking the punishment of Lycaon sufficient to 
strike terror into the rest of mankind, resolves, on account 
of the universal corruption, to extirpate them by a uni- 
versal deluge. 

Some, by their words approve the speech of Jupiter, and 
give spur to him, indignantly exclaiming; others, by silent 
assent fulfil their parts. Yet the entire destruction of the 
human race is a cause of grief to them all, and they enquire 
what is to be the form of the earth in future, when destitute 
of mankind? who is to place frankincense^ on the altars? and 
whether it is his design to give up the nations for a prey to 
the wild beasts? The ruler of the Gods forbids them making 
these enquiries, to be alarmed ( for that the rest should be his 
care) ; and he promises, that from a wondrous source he will 
raise a generation unlike the preceding race. 

And now he was about to scatter his thunder over all 
lands; but he was afraid lest, perchance, the sacred aether 
might catch fire, from so many flames, and the extended sky 
might become enflamed. He remembers, too, that it was in 
the decrees of Fate, that a time should come," at which the 
sea, the earth, and the palace of heaven, seized by the flames, 
should be burned, and the laboriously-wrought fabric of the 
universe should be in danger of perishing. The weapons 
forged by the hands of the Cyclops are laid aside ; a different 
mode of punishment pleases him : to destroy mankind beneath 
the waves, and to let loose the rains from the whole tract of 
Heaven. At once he shuts the North Wind in the caverns of 
^olus, and all those blasts which dispel the clouds drawn over 

^An anachronism. In those early ages, corn, or wheaten flour, was 
the customary offering to the Deities, and not frankincense, which 
was introduced among the luxuries of more refined times. 
2 The Sibyls predicted that the world should perish by fire. 

338 OVID 

the Earth: and then he sends forth the South Wind. With 
soaking wings the South Wind flies abroad, having his terrible 
face covered with pitchy darkness ; his beard is loaded with 
showers, the water streams down from his hoary locks, clouds 
gather upon his forehead, his wings and the folds of his robe 
drip with wet; and, as with his broad hand he squeezes the 
hanging clouds, a crash arises, and thence showers are poured 
in torrents from the sky. Iris,^ the messenger of Juno, 
clothed in various colours, collects the waters, and bears a 
supply upwards to the clouds. 

The standing corn is beaten down, and the expectations of 
the husbandman, now lamented by him, are ruined, and the 
labours of a long year prematurely perish. Nor is the wrath 
of Jove satisfied with his own heaven ; but Neptune, his 
azure brother, aids him with his auxiliary waves. He calls 
together the rivers, which, soon as they had entered the abode 
of their ruler, he says, " I must not now employ a lengthened 
exhortation; pour forth all your might, so the occasion re- 
quires. Open your abodes, and, each obstacle removed, give 
full rein to your streams." Thus he commanded; they re- 
turn, and open the mouths of their fountains, and roll on 
into the ocean with unobstructed course. He himself struck 
the Earth with his trident, on which it shook, and with a 
tremor laid open the sources of its waters. The rivers, break- 
ing out, rush through the open plains, and bear away, together 
with the standing corn, the groves, flocks, men, houses, and 
temples, together with their sacred utensils. If any house re- 
mained, and, not thrown down, was able to resist ruin so vast, 
yet the waves, rising aloft, covered the roof of that house, 
and the towers tottered, overwhelmed beneath the stream. 
And now sea and land had no mark of distinction ; everything 
now was ocean ; and to that ocean shores were wanting. One 
man takes possession of a hill, another sits in a curved boat, 
and plies the oars there where he had lately ploughed ; another 
sails over the standing corn, or the roof of his country-house 
under water; another catches a fish on the top of an elm-tree. 
An anchor (if chance so directs) is fastened in a green mea- 

^ Goddess of the rainbow. 


dow, or the curving keels come in contact with the vine- 
yards, now below them ; and where of late the slender goats 
had cropped the grass, there unsightly sea-calves are now re- 
posing their bodies. 

The Nereids wonder at the groves, the cities, and the 
houses under water; dolphins get into the woods, and run 
against the lofty branches, and beat against the tossed oaks. 
The wolf swims among the sheep; the wave carries along the 
tawny lions ; the wave carries along the tigers. Neither does 
the powers of his lightning-shock avail the wild boar, nor 
his swift legs the stag, now borne away. The wandering 
bird, too, having long sought for land, where it may be al- 
lowed to light, its wings failing, falls down into the sea. The 
boundless range of the sea had overwhelmed the hills, and the 
stranger waves beat against the heights of the mountains. 
The greatest part is carried off by the water: those whom 
the w^ater spares, long fastings overcome, through scantiness 
of food. 


Neptune appeases the angry n'aves; and he commands Triton 
to sound his shell, that the sea may retire zvithin its shores, 
and the rivers within their banks. Deucalion and Pyrrha 
are the only persons saved from the deluge. 

Phocis separates the Aonian from the Act^an region ; ^ a 
fruitful land while it was a land ; but at that time it had be- 
come a part of the sea, and a wide plain of sudden waters. 
There a lofty mountain rises towards the stars, with two tops, 
by name Parnassus,- and advances beyond the clouds with its 
summit. When here Deucalion (for the sea had covered all 
other places), borne in a little ship, with the partner of his 

^ Aonia was a mountainous region of Boeotia ; and Actaea was an 
ancient name of Attica, from akte, the sea-shore. 
2 Mount Parnassus has two peaks, of which the one was called 
" Tichoreum," and was sacred to Bacchus ; and the other " Hypam- 
peum," and was devoted to Apollo and the Muses. 

340 OVID 

couch, first rested ; they adored the Corycian Nymphs/ and 
the Deities of the mountain, and the prophetic Themis,^ who 
at that time used to give out oracular responses. No man 
was there more upright than he, nor a greater lover of justice, 
nor was any woman more regardful of the Deities than she. 

Soon as Jupiter beholds the world overflowed by liquid 
waters, and sees that but one man remains out of so many 
thousands of late, and sees that but one woman remains out 
of so many thousands of late, both guiltless, and both wor- 
shippers of the Gods, he disperses the clouds ; and the showers 
being removed by the North Wind, he both lays open the earth 
to the heavens, and the heavens to the earth. The rage, too, 
of the sea does not continue; and his three-forked trident 
now laid aside, the ruler of the deep assuages the waters, and 
calls upon the azure Triton standing above the deep, and hav- 
ing his shoulders covered with the native purple shells ; and 
he bids him blow his resounding trumpet, and, the signal 
being given, to call back the waves and the streams. The 
hollow-wreathed trumpet ^ is taken up by him, which grows 
to a great width from its lowest twist; the trumpet, which, 
soon as it receives the air in the middle of the sea, fills wMth 
its notes the shores lying under either sun. Then, too, as 
soon as it touched the lips of the God dripping with his wet 
beard, and being blown, sounded the bidden retreat; it was 
heard by all the waters both of earth and sea, and stopped 
all those waters by which it was heard. Now the sea again 
has a shore; their channels receive the full rivers; the rivers 
subside; the hills are seen to come forth. The ground rises, 
places increase in extent as the waters decrease; and after a 
length of time, the woods show their naked tops, and retain 
the mud left upon their branches. 

^ So called from inhabiting the Corycian cavern in Mbunt Parnas- 
sus; they were fabled to be the daughters of Plistus, a river near 

2 Themis is said to have preceded Apollo in giving oracular responses 
at Delphi. She was the daughter of Coelus and Terra, and was the 
first to instruct men to ask of the Gods " that which was lawful and 
right," whence her name, which has this significance. 
^ The conch shell. 


The world was restored : which when Deucalion beheld to 
be empty, and how the desolate Earth kept a profound silence, 
he thus addressed Pyrrha, with tears bursting forth: — "O 
sister, O wife, O thou, the only woman surviving, whom a 
common origin,^ and a kindred descent, and afterwards the 
marriage tie has united to me, and whom now dangers them- 
selves unite to me ; we two are the whole people of the earth, 
whatever both the East and the West behold ; of all the rest, 
the sea has taken possession. And even now there is no cer- 
tain assurance of our lives; even yet do the clouds terrify my 
mind. What would now have been thy feelings, if without 
me thou hadst been rescued from destruction, O thou de- 
serving of compassion? In what manner couldst thou have 
been able alone to support this terror? With whom for a 
consoler, to endure these sorrow^s? For I, believe me, my 
wife, if the sea had only carried thee ofif, should have followed 
thee, and the sea should have carried me off as well. Oh that 
I could replace the people that are lost by the arts of my 
father,- and infuse the soul into the moulded earth! Now 
the mortal race exists in us two alone. Thus it has seemed 
good to the Gods, and we remain as mere samples of man- 


Deucalion and Pyrrha re-people the earth by casting stones 
behind them, in the manner prescribed by the Goddess 
Themis, zvhose oracle they had consulted. 

He thus spoke, and they wept. They resolved to pray to 
the Deities of Heaven, and to seek relief through the sacred 
oracles. There is no delay; together they repair to the waters 

^ Prometheus was the father of Deucalion and Epimetheus of Pyrrha ; 
Prometheus and Epimetheus being the sons of lapetus. It is in an 
extended sense that he styles her " sister " ; she being really his 

2 He alludes to the story of his father, Prometheus, having formed 
men of clay, and animated them with fire stolen from heaven. 
XI— 23 

342 OVID 

of Cephisiis/ though not yet clear, yet now cutting their 
wonted channel. Then, when they have sprinkled the waters 
poured on their clothes^ and their heads, they turn their steps 
to the temple of the sacred Goddess, the roof of which was 
defiled with foul moss, and whose altars were standing with- 
out fires. Soon as they reached the steps of the temple, each 
of them fell prostrate on the ground, and, trembling, gave 
kisses to the cold pavement. And thus they said : 

"If the Deities, prevailed upon by just prayers, are to be 
mollified, if the wrath of the Gods is to be averted; tell us, 
O Themis, by what art the loss of our race is to be repaired, 
and give thy assistance, O most gentle Goddess, to our ruined 
fortunes." The Goddess was moved, and gave this response: 
" Depart from my temple, and cover your heads, and loosen 
the garments girt around you, and throw behind your backs 
the bones of your great mother." For a long time they are 
amazed; and Pyrrha is the first by her words to break the 
silence, and then refuses to obey the commands of the God- 
dess ; and begs her, with trembling lips, to grant her pardon, 
and dreads to offend the shades of her mother by casting her 
bones. In the meantime they reconsider the words of the 
response given, but involved in dark obscurity, and they 
ponder them among themselves. Upon that, the son of Pro- 
metheus soothes the daughter of Epimetheus with these gentle 
words, and says, " Either is my discernment fallacious, or 
the oracles are just, and advise no sacrilege. The earth is the 
great mother; I suspect that the stones in the body of the 
earth are the bones meant; these we are ordered to throw 
behind our backs." Although she, descended from Titan, is 
moved by this interpretation of her husband, still her hope is 
involved in doubt; so much do they both distrust the advice 
of heaven; but what harm will it do to try? 

They go down, and they veil their heads, and ungird their 
garments, and cast stones, as ordered, behind their footsteps. 

^ The river Cephisus rises on Mount Parnassus, and flows near 


- It was the custom of the ancients, before entering a temple, either 

to sprinkle themselves with water, or to wash the body all over. 


The stones (who could have beHeved it, but that antiquity is 
a witness of the thing?) began to lay aside their hardness 
and their stiffness, and by degrees to become soft ; and when 
softened, to assume a new form. Presently after, when they 
were grown larger, a milder nature, too, was conferred on 
them, so that some shape of man might be seen in them, yet 
though but imperfect; and as if from the marble commenced 
to be wrought, not sufficiently distinct, and very like to rough 
statues. Yet that part of them which was humid with any 
moisture, and earthy, was turned into portions adapted for 
the use of the body. That which is solid, and cannot be bent, 
is changed into bones ; that which was just now a vein, still 
remains under the same name. And in a little time, by the 
interposition of the Gods above, the stones thrown by the 
hands of the man, took the shape of a man, and the female 
race was renewed by the throw^ing of the woman. Thence 
are we a hardy generation, and able to endure fatigue, and 
we give proofs from what original we are sprung. 


The Earth, being ziwined by the heat of the sun, produces 
man\ monsters; among others, the serpent Python, zvhich 
Apollo kills zdth his arrows. To establish a memorial of 
this event, he institutes the Pythian games, and adopts the 
surname of Pythius. 

The Earth of her own accord brought forth other ani- 
mals of different forms; after that the former moisture was 
thoroughly heated by the rays of the sun, and the mud and 
the wet fens fermented w'ith the heat; and the fruitful seeds 
of things nourished by the enlivening soil, as in the womb of 
a mother, grew, and, in lapse of time, assumed some regular 
shape. Thus, when the seven-streamed Nile^ has forsaken 
the oozy fields, and has returned its waters to their ancient 
channel, and the fresh mud has been heated wnth the sethereal 

^ The river Nile discharges itself into the sea by seven mouths. 

344 OVID 

sun, the labourers, on turning up the clods, meet with very 
many animals, and among them, some just begun at the very 
moment of their formation, and some they see still imperfect, 
and as yet destitute of some of their limbs; and often, in the 
same body, as one part animated, the other part is coarse 
earth. For when moisture and heat have been subjected to a 
due mixture, they conceive; and all things arise from these 

And although fire is the antagonist of heat, yet a moist va- 
pour creates all things, and this discordant concord is suited 
for generation ; when, therefore, the Earth, covered with mud 
by the late deluge, was thoroughly heated by the sethereal 
sunshine and a penetrating warmth, it produced species of 
creatures innumerable ; and partly restored the former shapes, 
and partly gave birth to new monsters. She, indeed, might 
have been unwilling, but then she produced thee as well, thou 
enormous Python ; and thou, unheard of serpent, wast a source 
of terror to this new race of men, so vast a part of a mountain 
didst thou occupy. 

The God that bears the bow, and that had never before 
used such arms, but against the deer and the timorous goats, 
destroyed him, overwhelmed with a thousand arrows, his quiver 
being well-nigh exhausted, as the venom oozed forth through 
the black wounds; and that length of time might not efface 
the fame of the deed, he instituted sacred games,^ with con- 
tests famed in story, called " Pythia," from the name of the 
serpent so conquered. In these, whosoever of the young men 
conquered in boxing, in running, or in chariot-racing, received 
the honour of a crown of beechen leaves. As yet the laurel 

1 Yet Pausanias tells us that they were instituted by Diomedes; 
others, again, say by Eurylochus the Thessalian; and others, by Am- 
phictyon, or Adrastus. The Pythian games were celebrated near 
Delphi, on the Crisssean plain, which contained a race-course, a 
stadium of looo feet in length, and a theatre, in which the musical 
contests took place. Previously to the 48th Olympiad, the Pythian 
games had been celebrated at the end of every eighth year; after 
that period, they were held at the end of every fourth year. When 
they ceased to be solemnized is unknown; but in the time of the 
Emperor Julian they still continued to be held. 


existed not, and Phoebus used to bind his temples, graceful 
with long hair, with garlands from any tree. 


Apollo, falling in love zuith Daphne, the daughter of the river 
Peneus, she Hies from him. He pursues her; on ivhich, the 
Nymph, imploring the aid of her father, is changed into a 

Daphne, the daughter of Peneus,^ was the first love of 
Phoebus; whom, not blind chance, but the vengeful anger of 
Cupid assigned to him. 

The Delian God," proud of having lately subdued the ser- 
pent, had seen him bending the bow and drawing the string, 
and had said, " What hast thou to do, wanton boy, with gal- 
lant arms ? Such a burden as that better befits my shoulders ; 
I, who am able to give unerring wounds to the wild beasts, 
wounds to the enemy; who lately slew with arrows innumer- 
able the swelling Python, that covered so many acres of land 
with his pestilential belly. Do thou be contented to excite I 
know not what flames with thy torch; and do not lay claim 
to praises properly my own." 

To him the son of Venus replies, " Let thy bow shoot 
all things, Phoebus ; my bow shall shoot thee ; and as much as 
all animals fall short of thee, so much is thy glory less than 
mine." He thus said; and cleaving the air with his beating 
wings, with activity he stood upon the shady heights of Par- 
nassus, and drew two weapons out of his arrow-bearing quiver, 
of different workmanship; the one repels, the other excites 
desire. That which causes love is of gold, and is brilliant, 
with a sharp point; that which repels it is blunt, and contains 
lead beneath the reed. This one the God fixed in the Nymph, 
the daughter of Peneus, but with the other he wounded the 

^ The Peneus was a river of Thessaly. 

- Apollo is so called, from having been born in the Isle of Delos, in 

the -iEgean Sea. 

346 OVID 

very marrow of Apollo, through his bones pierced by the 
arrow. Immediately the one is in love; the other flies from 
the very name of a lover, rejoicing in the recesses of the 
woods, and in the spoils of wild beasts taken in hunting, and 
becomes a rival of the virgin Phoebe. A fillet tied together ^ 
her hair, put up without any order. Many a one courted her ; 
she hated all wooers; not able to endure, and quite unac- 
quainted with man, she traverses the solitary parts of the 
woods, and she cares not what Hymen, what love, or what 
marriage means. Many a time did her father say, " My 
daughter, thou owest me a son-in-law ; " many a time did 
her father say, " My daughter, thou owest me grandchildren." 
She, utterly abhorring the nuptial torch, as though a crime, 
has her beateous face covered with the blush of modesty; and 
clinging to her father's neck, with caressing arms, she says, 
"Allow me, my dearest father, to enjoy perpetual virginity; 
her father, in times bygone, granted this to Diana." 

He indeed complied. But that very beauty forbids thee 
to be what thou wishest, and the charms of thy person are an 
impediment to thy desires. Phoebus falls in love, and he 
covets an alliance with Daphne, now seen by him, and what 
he covets he hopes for, and his own oracles deceive him; 
and as the light stubble is burned, when the ears of corn are 
taken off, and as hedges are set on fire by the torches, which 
perchance a traveller has either held too near them, or has left 
there, now about the break of day, thus did the God burst 
into a flame ; thus did he burn throughout his breast, and 
cherish a fruitless passion with his hopes. He beholds her 
hair hanging unadorned upon her neck, and he says, " And 
what would it be if it were arranged?" He sees her eyes, 
like stars, sparkling with fire ; he sees her lips, which it is not 
enough to have merely seen; he praises both her fingers and 
her hands, and her arms and her shoulders naked, from be- 

^ A band encircling the head, and serving to confine the tresses of 
the hair. A different kind was worn by maidens from that by mar- 
ried women. It was not worn by women of light character, or even 
by the female slaves who had been liberated; so that it was not only 
an emblem of chastity, but of freedom also. 


yond the middle; whatever is hidden from view, he thinks 
to be still more beauteous. Swifter than the light wind 
she flies, and she stops not at these words of his, as he calls 
her back ; 

" O Nymph, daughter of Peneus, stay, I entreat thee ! I 
am not an enemy following thee. In this way the lamb flies 
from the wolf; thus the deer flies from the lion; thus the 
dove flies from the eagle with trembling wing; in this way 
each creature flies from its enemy: love is the cause of my fol- 
lowing thee. Ah ! wretched me ! shouldst thou fall on thy 
face, or should the brambles tear thy legs, that deserve not 
to be injured, and should I prove the cause of pain to thee. 
The places are rugged, through which thou art thus hasten- 
ing ; run more leisurely, I entreat thee, and restrain thy flight ; 
I myself will follow more leisurely. And yet, enquire whom 
thou dost please; I am not an inhabitant of the mountains, 
I am not a shepherd ; I am not here, in rude guise, watching 
the herds or the flocks. Thou knowest not, rash girl, thou 
knowest not from whom thou art flying, and therefore it is 
that thou dost fly. The Delphian land, Claros and Tenedos, 
and the Patarasan palace pays service to me.^ Jupiter is my 
sire; by me, what shall be, what has been, and what is, is 
disclosed; through me, songs harmonize with the strings. 
My own arrow, indeed, is unerring ; yet one there is still more 
unerring than my own, which has made this wound in my 
heart, before unscathed. The healing art is my discovery, 
and throughout the world I am honoured as the bearer of 
help, and the properties of simples are subjected to me. Ah, 
wretched me! that love is not to be cured by any herbs; and 
that those arts which afford relief to all, are of no avail for 
their master." 

The daughter of Peneus flies from him, about to say still 
more, with timid step, and together with him she leaves his 
unfinished address. Then, too, she appeared lovely ; the winds 
exposed her form to view, and the gusts meeting her, flut- 

^ Claros was a city of Ionia. Tenedos was an island of the ^gean 
Sea, in the neighbourhood of Troy. Patara was a city of Lycia, 
where Apollo gave oracular responses during six months of the year. 

348 OVID 

tered about her garments, as they came in contact, and the 
Hght breeze spread behind her her careless locks ; and thus, by 
her flight, was her beauty increased. But the youthful God 
has not patience any longer to waste his blandishments; and 
as love urges him on, he follows her steps with hastening pace. 
As when the greyhound has seen the hare in the open field, 
and the one by the speed of his legs pursues his prey, the 
other seeks her safety; the one is like as if just about to 
fasten on the other, and now, even now, hopes to catch her, 
and with nose outstretched plies upon the footsteps of the hare. 
The other is in doubt whether she is caught already, and is 
delivered from his very bite, and leaves behind the mouth 
just touching her. And so is the God, and so is the virgin; 
he swift with hopes, she with fear. 

Yet he that follows, aided by the wings of love, is the 
swifter, and denies her any rest ; and is now just at her back as 
she flies, and is breathing upon her hair scattered upon her neck. 
Her strength being now spent, she grows pale, and being quite 
faint, with the fatigue of so swift a flight, looking upon 
the waters of Peneus, she says, " Give me, my father, thy 
aid, if you rivers have divine power. Oh Earth, either yawn 
to swallow me, or by changing it, destroy that form, by which 
I have pleased too much, and which causes me to be injured." 

Hardly had she ended her prayer, when a heavy torpor 
seizes her limbs; and her soft breasts are covered with a 
thin bark. Her hair grows into green leaves, her arms into 
branches; her feet, the moment before so swift, adhere by 
sluggish roots; a leafy canopy overspreads her features; her 
elegance alone remains in her. This, too, Phoebus admires, 
and placing his right hand upon the stock, he perceives that 
the breast still throbs beneath the new bark; and then, em- 
bracing the branches as though limbs in his arms, he gives 
kisses to the wood, and yet the wood shrinks from his kisses. 
To her the God said : " But since thou canst not be my wife, 
at least thou shalt be my tree; my hair, my lyre, my quiver 
shall always have thee, oh laurel! Thou shalt be presented 
to the Latian chieftains, when the joyous voice of the soldiers 
shall sing the song of triumph, and the long procession shall 
resort to the Capitol. Thou, the same, shalt stand as a most 


faithful guardian at the gate-posts of Augustus before his 
doors, and shalt protect the oak placed in the centre;^ and 
as my head is ever youthful with unshorn locks, do thou, too, 
always wear the lasting honours of thy foliage." 

Paean had ended his speech ; the laurel nodded assent with 
its new-made boughs, and seemed to shake its top just like a 


Jupiter, pursuing lo, the daughter of Inachus, covers the earth 
with darkness, and ravishes the Nymph. 

There is a grove of Haemonia," which a wood placed on a 
craggy rock, encloses on every side. They call it Tempe; 
through this the river Peneus, flowing from the bottom of 
mount Pindus, rolls along with its foaming waves, and in its 
mighty fall, gathers clouds that scatter a vapour like thin 
smoke, and with its spray besprinkles the tops of the woods, 
and wearies places, far from near to it, with its noise. This 
is the home, this the abode, these are the retreats of the 
great river ; residing here in a cavern formed by rocks, he gives 
law^ to the waters, and to the Nymphs that inhabit those 
waters. The rivers of that country first repair thither, not 
knowing whether they should congratulate, or whether console 
the parent ; the poplar-bearing Spercheus,^ and the restless 
Enipeus,^ the aged Apidanus,^ the gentle Amphrysus,® and 

1 Ovid here alludes to the civic crown of oak leaves which, by order 
of the senate, was placed before the gate of the Palatium, where 
Augustus Caesar resided, with branches of laurel on either side of it. 

2 An ancient name of Thessaly. 

3 A rapid stream, flowing at the foot of Mount ^Etna into the IMalian 

* The Enipeus rises in Mount Othrys, and runs through Thessaly. 
^ The Apidanus, receiving the stream of the Enipeus at PharsaHa, 
flows into the Peneus. It is probably called " senex," as having been 
known and celebrated by the poets from of old. 

* This river ran through that part of Thessaly known by the name of 

350 OVID 

yEas/ and, soon after, the other rivers, which, as their current 
leads them, carry down into the sea their waves, wearied by 
wanderings. Inachus ^ alone is absent, and, hidden in his 
deepest cavern, increases his waters with his tears, and in 
extreme wretchedness bewails his daughter lo as lost: he 
knows not whether she now enjoys life, or whether she is 
among the shades below ; but her, whom he does not find any- 
where, he believes to be nowhere, and in his mind he dreads 
the worst. 

Jupiter had seen lo as she was returning from her father's 
stream, and had said, " O maid, worthy of Jove, and destined 
to make I know not whom happy in thy marriage, repair to 
the shades of this lofty grove (and he pointed at the shade of 
the grove) while it is warm, and while the Sun is at his height, 
in the midst of his course. But if thou art afraid to enter the 
lonely abodes of the wild beasts alone, thou shalt enter the 
recesses of the groves, safe under the protection of a God, 
and that a God of no common sort ; but with me, who hold the 
sceptre of heaven in my powerful hand; me, who hurl the 
wandering lightnings — Do not fly from me ; " for now she 
was flying. And now she had left behind the pastures of 
Lerna,^ and the Lircaean plains planted with trees, when the 
God covered the earth far and wide with darkness over- 
spreading, and arrested her flight, and forced her modesty. 

^ A small limpid stream, running through Epirus and Thessaly, and 
discharging itself into the Ionian Sea. 
- A river of Argolis, now known as the Naio. 

^ A swampy spot on the Argive territory, where the poets say that 
the dragon with seven heads, called Hydra, which was slain by Her- 
cules, had made his haunt. It is not improbable that the pestilential 
vapours of this spot were got rid of by means of its being drained 
under the superintendence of Hercules, on which fact the story 
was founded. 



Jupiter, having changed lo into a cow, to conceal her from 
the jealousy of Juno, is obliged to give her to that Goddess, 
who commits her to the charge of the zvatchful Argus. 
Jupiter sends Mercury with an injunction to cast Argus 
into a deep sleep, and to take azvay his life. 

In the meantime Juno looked down upon the midst of the 
fields, and wondering that the fleeting clouds had made the 
appearance of night under bright day, she perceived that they 
were not the vapours from a river, nor were they raised 
from the moist earth, and then she looked around to see 
where her husband was, as being one who by this time was 
full well acquainted with the intrigues of a husband who had 
been so often detected. After she had found him not in 
heaven, she said, "I am either deceived, or I am injured;'* 
and having descended from the height of heaven, she alighted 
upon the earth, and commanded the mists to retire. He had 
foreseen the approach of his wife, and had changed the fea- 
tures of the daughter of Inachus into a sleek heifer. As a 
cow, too, she is beautiful. The daughter of Saturn, though 
unwillingly, extols the appearance of the cow^ ; and likewise 
enquires, whose it is, and whence, or of what herd it is, 
as though ignorant of the truth. Jupiter falsely asserts that 
it was produced out of the earth, that the owner may cease 
to be inquired after. The daughter of Saturn begs her of 
him as a gift. What can he do? It is a cruel thing to de- 
liver up his own mistress, and not to give her up is a cause of 
suspicion. It is shame which persuades him on the one hand, 
love dissuades him on the other. His shame would have been 
subdued by his love; but if so trifling a gift as a cow should 
be refused to the sharer of his descent and his couch, she might 
well seem not to be a cow. 

The rival now being given up to her, the Goddess did not 
immediately lay aside all apprehension ; and she was still afraid 
of Jupiter, and was fearful of her being stolen, until she 
gave her to Argus, the son of Aristor, to be kept by him. 
Argus had his head encircled wath a hundred eyes. Two of 

352 OVID 

them used to take rest in their turns, the rest watched, and 
used to keep on duty. In whatever manner he stood, he 
looked towards lo; although turned away, he still used to 
have lo before his eyes. In the day time he suffers her to 
feed; but when the sun is below the deep earth, he shuts her 
up, and ties a cord round her neck undeserving of such treat- 
ment. She feeds upon the leaves of the arbute tree, and bit- 
ter herbs, and instead of a bed the unfortunate animal lies 
upon the earth, that does not always have grass on it, and 
drinks of muddy streams. And when, too, she was desirous, 
as a suppliant, to stretch out her arms to Argus, she had no 
arms to stretch out to Argus ; and she uttered lowings from 
her mouth, when endeavouring to complain. And at this 
sound she was terrified, and was affrighted at her own voice. 
She came, too, to the banks where she was often wont to 
sport, the banks of her father, Inachus ; and soon as she be- 
held her new horns in the water, she was terrified, and, aston- 
ished, she recoiled from herself. The Naiads knew her not, 
and Inachus himself knew her not, who she was; but she 
follows her father, and follows her sisters, and suffers herself 
to be touched, and presents herself to them, as they admire 
her. The aged Inachus held her some grass he had plucked ; 
she licks his hand, and gives kisses to the palms of her 
father. Nor does she restrain her tears; and if only words 
would follow, she would implore his aid, and would declare 
her name and misfortunes. Instead of words, letters, which 
her foot traced in the dust, completed the sad discovery of the 
transformation of her body. "Ah, wretched me!" exclaims 
her father Inachus; and clinging to the horns and the neck 
of the snow-white cow, as she wept, he repeats, " Ah, wretched 
me ! and art thou my daughter, that hast been sought for by 
me throughout all lands? While undiscovered, thou wast a 
lighter grief to me, than now, when thou art found. Thou art 
silent, and no words dost thou return in answer to mine ; thou 
only heavest sighs from the depth of thy breast, and what 
alone thou art able to do, thou answerest in lowings to my 
words. But I, in ignorance of this, was preparing the bridal 
chamber, and the nuptial torches for thee; and my chief hope 
was that of a son-in-law, my next was that of grandchildren. 


But now must thou have a mate from the herd, now, too, an 
offspring of the herd. Nor is it possible for me to end grief 
so great by death ; but it is a detriment to be a God ; and the 
gate of death being shut against me, extends my grief to 
eternal ages." 

While thus he lamented, the starry Argus removed her 
away, and carried the daughter, thus taken from her father, to 
distant pastures. He himself, at a distance, occupies the lofty 
top of a mountain, whence, as he sits, he may look about on 
all sides. 

Nor can the ruler of the Gods above, any longer endure so 
great miseries of the granddaughter of Phoroneus;^ and he 
calls his son Mercury, whom the bright Pleiad, Maia,^ brought 
forth, and orders him to put Argus to death. There is but 
little delay to take wings upon his feet, and his soporiferous 
wand ^ in his hand, and a cap for his hair.* After he had 
put these things in order, the son of Jupiter leaps down from 
his father's high abode upon the earth, and there he takes off 
his cap, and lays aside his wings; his wand alone was re- 
tained. With this, as a shepherd, he drives some she goats 
through the pathless country, taken up as he passed along, 
and plays upon oaten straws joined together. 

The keeper appointed by Juno, charmed by the sound of 
this new contrivance, says, " Whoever thou art, thou mayst 
be seated with me upon this stone; for, indeed, in no other 
place is the herbage more abundant for thy flock; and thou 
seest, too, that the shade is convenient for the shepherds." 
The son of Atlas sat down, and with much talking he occu- 
pied the passing day with his discourse, and by playing upon 
his joined reeds he tried to overpower his watchful eyes. Yet 

1 The father of Jasius and of Tnachus, the parent of lo. 

2 One of the seven daughters of Atlas, who were styled Pleiades 
after they were received among the constellations. 

^ The " caduceus," or staff, with which Mercury summoned the souls 

of the departed from the shades, induced slumber, and did other 

offices pertaining to his capacity as the herald and messenger of 

Jupiter. It was represented as an olive branch, wreathed with two 


^ Called " Petasus." It had broad brims. 

354 OVID 

the other strives hard to overcome soft sleep; and although 
sleep was received by a part of his eyes, yet with a part he 
still keeps watch. He enquires also, (for the pipe had been 
but lately invented) by what method it had been found out. 


Pan, falling in love with the Nymph Syrinx^ she flies from 
him; on zvhich he pursues her. Syrinx, arrested in her 
flight by the waves of the river Ladon, invokes the aid of 
her sisters, the Naiads, who change her into reeds. Pan 
unites them into an instrument with seven pipes, zvhich 
bears the name of the Nymph. 

Then the God says, " In the cold mountains of Arcadia, 
among the Hamadryads of Nonacris,^ there was one Naiad 
very famous ; the Nymphs called her Syrinx. And not once 
alone had she escaped the Satyrs as they pursued, and what- 
ever Gods either the shady grove or the fruitful fields have in 
them. In her pursuits and her virginity itself she used to de- 
vote herself to the Ortygian Goddess," and being clothed after 
the fashion of Diana, she might have deceived one, and might 
have been supposed to be the daughter of Latona, if she had 
not had a bow of cornel wood, the other, a bow of gold; and 
even then did she sometimes deceive people. Pan spies her as 
she is returning from the hill of Lycaeus, and having his head 
crowned with sharp pine leaves, he utters such words as 
these ; " it remained for Mercury to repeat the words, and 
how that the Nymph, slighting his suit, fled through pathless 
spots, until she came to the gentle stream of sandy Ladon ; ^ 
and that here, the waters stopping her course, she prayed to 
her watery sisters, that they would change her; and how that 
Pan, when he was thinking that Syrinx was now caught by 

^ Nonacris was the name of both a mountain and a city of Arcadia, 

in the Peloponnesus. 

- Diana is called " Ortygian," from the isle of Deles, where she was 

born, one of whose names was Ortygia, from the quantity of quails, 

ortugcs, there found. 

^ A beautiful river of Arcadia, flowing into the Alpheus. 


him, had seized hold of some reeds of the marsh, instead of 
the body of the Nymph ; and how, while he was sighing there, 
the winds moving amid the reeds had made a murmuring 
noise, and like one complaining; and how that, charmed by 
this new discovery and the sweetness of the sound, he had said, 
"This mode of converse with thee shall ever remain with 
me ; " and that accordingly, unequal reeds being stuck together 
among themselves by a cement of wax, had since retained the 
name of the damsel. 


Mercury, having lulled Argus to sleep, cuts off his head, and 
Juno places his eyes in the peacock's tail. 

The Cyllenian God^ being about to say such things, per- 
ceived that all his eyes were sunk in sleep, and that his sight 
was wrapped in slumber. At once he puts an end to his 
song, and strengthens his slumbers, stroking his languid eyes 
with his magic wand. There is no delay ; he wounds him, 
as he nods, with his crooked sword, where the head is joined 
to the neck; and casts him, all blood-stained, from the rock, 
and stains the craggy cliff with his gore. 

Argus, thou liest low, and the light which thou hadst in 
so many eyes is now extinguished; and one night takes pos- 
session of a whole hundred eyes. The daughter of Saturn 
takes them, and places them on the feathers of her own bird, 
and she fills its tail with starry gems. 


lo, terrified and maddened with dreadful visions, runs over 
many regions, and stops in Egypt, n'hen Juno, at length, 
being pacified, restores her to her former shape, and per- 
mits her to be zvorshippcd there, under the name of Isis. 

Immediately, she was inflamed with rage, and deferred 
not the time of expressing her wrath ; and she presented a 
dreadful Fury before the eyes and thoughts of the Argive 

^ Mercury is so called from Cyllene, in Arcadia, where he was born. 

356 OVID 

mistress, and buried in her bosom invisible stings, and drove 
her, in her fright, a wanderer through the whole earth. Thou, 
O Nile, didst remain, as the utmost boundary of her long 
wanderings. Soon as she arrived there, she fell upon her 
knees, placed on the edge of the bank, and raising herself up, 
with her neck thrown back, and casting to Heaven those looks 
which then alone she could, by her groans, and her tears, 
and her mournful lowing, she seemed to be complaining of 
Jupiter, and to be begging an end of her sorrows. 

He, embracing the neck of his wife with his arms, entreats 
her, at length, to put an end to her punishment; and he says, 
" Lay aside thy fears for the future ; she shall never more be 
the occasion of any trouble to thee; " and then he bids the Sty- 
gian waters to hear this oath. As soon as the Goddess is 
pacified, lo receives her former shape, and she becomes what 
she was before; the hairs flee from off her body, her horns 
decrease, and the orb of her eye becomes less ; the opening of 
her jaw is contracted; her shoulders and her hands return, 
and her hoof, vanishing, is disposed of into five nails; nothing 
of the cow remains to her, but the whiteness of her appear- 
ance ; and the Nymph, contented with the service of two feet, 
is raised erect on them; and yet she is afraid to speak, lest she 
should low like a cow, and timorously tries again the words so 
long interrupted. Now, as a Goddess, she is worshipped by the 
linen-wearing throng of Egypt.^ 

To her, at length, Epaphus ^ is believed to have been born 
from the seed of great Jove, and throughout the cities he pos- 
sesses temples joined to those of his parent. Phaeton, sprung 
from the Sun, was equal to him in spirit and in years ; whom 
formerly, as he uttered great boasts, and yielded not at all to 
him, and proud of his father, Phoebus, the grandson of Ina- 
chus could not endure ; and said, *' Thou, like a madman, be- 

^ The priests, and worshippers of Isis, with whom lo is here said to 
be identical, paid their adoration to her clothed in linen vestments. 
Probably, Isis was the first to teach the Egyptians the cultivation 
of flax. 

- Herodotus, in his second book, tells us, that this son of Jupiter, 
by lo, was the same as the Egyptian God, Apis. 


lievest thy mother in all things, and art puffed up with conceit 
of an imaginary father." 

Phaeton blushed, and in shame repressed his resentment; 
and he reported to his mother, Clymene,^ the reproaches of 
Epaphus ; and said, " Mother, to grieve thee still more, I, the 
free, the bold youth, was silent ; I am ashamed both that these 
reproaches can be uttered against us, and that they cannot 
be refuted; but do thou, if only I am born of a divine race, 
give me some proof of so great a descent, and claim me for 
heaven." Thus he spoke, and threw his arms around the neck 
of his mother; and besought her, by his own head and by that 
of Alerops," and by the nuptial torches of his sisters, that she 
would give him some token of his real father. 

It is a matter of doubt whether Clymene was more moved 
by the entreaties of Phaeton, or by resentment at the charge 
made against her; and she raised both her arms to heaven, 
and, looking up to the light of the Sun, she said, " Son, I 
swear to thee, by this beam, bright with shining rays, which 
both hears and sees us, that thou, that thou, I say, wast be- 
gotten by this Sun, which thou beholdst ; by this Sun, which 
governs the world. If I utter an untruth, let him deny him- 
self to be seen by me, and let this light prove the last for my 

Nor will it be any prolonged trouble for thee to visit thy 
father's dwelling; the abode where he arises is contiguous to 
our regions.^ If only thy inclination disposes thee, go forth, 
and thou shalt inquire of himself." 

Phaeton immediately springs forth, overjoyed, upon these 
words of his mother, and reaches the skies in imagination; 
and he passes by his own /Ethiopians, and the Indians situate 
beneath the rays of the Sun, and briskly w'ends his way to the 
rising of his sire. 

^ A Nymph of the sea, the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. 
2 King of Ethiopia, and, marrying the Nymph Clymene, the step- 
father of Phaeton. 

^ Ethiopia, which, in the time of Ovid, was looked upon as one of 
the regions of the East. 

XI— 24 

358 OVID 



Phaeton, insulted by Epaphus, goes to the Palace of Apollo, 
to beseech him to give some token that he is his son. Apollo 
having szuorn, by the river Styx, to refuse him nothing that 
he should desire, he immediately asks to guide his chariot 
for one day. He is unsuccessful in the attempt, and, the 
horses running away, the world is in danger of being con- 

The palace of the Sun was raised high, on stately columns, 
bright with radiant gold, and carbuncle that rivals the flames ; 
polished ivory covered its highest top, and double folding 
doors shone with the brightness of silver. The work- 
manship even exceeded the material ; for there Mulciber 
had carved the sea circling round the encompassed Earth ; and 
the orb of the Earth, and the Heavens which hang over that 
orb. There the waves have in them the azure Deities, both 
Triton, sounding with his shell, and the changing Proteus, 
and ^geon,^ pressing the huge backs of whales with his arms ; 
Doris,^ too, and her daughters, part of whom appear to be 
swimming, part, sitting on the bank, to be drying their green 
hair ; some are seen borne upon fishes. The features in all 
are not the samic, nor, however, remarkably different ; they are 
such as those of sisters ought to be. The Earth has upon it 
men and cities, and woods, and wild beasts, and rivers, and 
Nymphs, and other Deities of the country. Over these is 
placed the figure of the shining Heaven, and there are six 
Signs of the Zodiac on the right door, and as many on the 

Soon as the son of Clymene had arrived thither by an as- 
cending path, and entered the house of his parent, thus 

^ Homer makes him to be the same with Briareus. According to 
another account, which Ovid here follows, he was a sea God, the 
son of Oceanus and Terra. 

2 The daughter of Oceanus, the wife of Nereus, and the mother of 
the fifty Nereids. 


doubted of; he immediately turned his steps to the presence 
of his father, and stood at a distance, for he could not bear 
the refulgence nearer. Arrayed in a purple garment, Phoebus 
was seated on a throne sparkling with brilliant emeralds. On 
his right hand, and on his left, the Days, the Months, the 
Years, the Ages, and the Hours were arranged, at correspond- 
ing distances, and the fresh Spring was standing, crowned 
with a chaplet of blossoms; Summer was standing naked, and 
wearing garlands made of ears of corn; Autumn, too, was 
standing besmeared with the trodden-out grapes; and icy 
Winter, rough with his hoary hair. 

Then the Sun, from the midst of this place, with those 
eyes with which he beholds all things, sees the young man 
struck with fear at the novelty of these things, and says, 
"What is the occasion of thy journey hither? What dost 
thou seek. Phaeton, in this my palace, a son not to be denied by 
his parent?" 

He answers, " O thou universal Light of the unbounded 
World, Phoebus, my father, if thou grantest me the use of 
that name; and if Clymene is not concealing an error under a 
false pretext, give me, my parent, some token, by which I may 
be believed to be really thy progeny; and remove this uncer- 
tainty from my mind." Thus he spoke ; but his parent took 
off the rays shining all around his head, and commanded him 
to come nearer; and, having embraced him, he says, "And 
neither art thou deserving to be denied to be mine, and 
Clymene has told thee thy true origin; and that thou mayst 
have the less doubt, ask any gift thou mayst please, that thou 
mayst receive it from me bestowing it. Let the lake, by 
which the Gods are wont to swear, and which is unseen, even 
by my eyes, be as a witness of my promise." 

Hardly had he well finished, when he asks for his father's 
chariot, and for the command and guidance of the wing- 
footed horses for one day. His father repented that he had 
so sworn, and shaking his splendid head three or four times, 
he said, " By thine have my words been made rash. I wish I 
were allowed not to grant what I have promised! I confess, 
my son, that this alone I would deny thee. Still, I may dis- 
suade thee: thy desire is not attended with safety. Thou de- 

360 OVID 

sirest, Phaeton, a gift too great, and one which is suited 
neither to thy strength, nor to such youthful years. Thy lot is 
that of a mortal; that which thou desirest, belongs not to mor- 
tals. Nay, thou aimest, in thy ignorance, at even more than 
it is allowed the Gods above to obtain. Let every one be self- 
satisfied, if he likes; still, with the exception of myself, no one 
is able to take his stand upon the fire-bearing axle-tree. Even 
the Ruler of vast Olympus, who hurls the ruthless bolts with 
his terrific right hand, cannot guide this chariot ; and yet, what 
have we greater than Jupiter? The first part of the road is 
steep, and such as the horses, though fresh in the morning, 
can hardly climb. In the middle of the heavens it is high aloft, 
from whence it is often a source of fear, even to myself, to 
look down upon the sea and earth, and my breast trembles 
with fearful apprehensions. The last stage is a steep descent, 
and requires a sure command of the horses. Then, too, 
Tethys^ herself, who receives me in her waves, extended be- 
low, is often wont to fear, lest I should be borne headlong 
from above. Besides, the heavens are carried round with a 
constant rotation, and carry with them the lofty stars, and 
whirl them with rapid revolution. Against this I have to con- 
tend; and that force which overcomes all other things, does 
not overcome me ; and I am carried in a contrary direction to 
the rapid world. Suppose the chariot given to thee; what 
couldst thou do? Couldst thou proceed, opposed to the whirl- 
ing poles, so that the rapid heavens should not carry thee 
away? Perhaps, too, thou dost fancy in thy mind that there 
are groves, and cities of the Gods, and temples enriched with 
gifts; v.'hereas, the way is through dangers, and the forms of 
wild beasts ; " and though thou shouldst keep on thy road, and 
be drawn aside by no wanderings, still thou must pass amid 
the horns of the threatening Bull, and the H^emonian bow,' 
and before the visage of the raging Lion, and the Scorpion, 

^ Daughter of Coelus and Terra, and the wife of Oceanus. Her 

name is here used to signify the ocean itself. 

2 The signs of the Zodiac. 

^ Ovid here alludes to the Thessalian Chiron, the Centaur, who was 

placed in the Zodiac as the Constellation Sagittarius, 


bending his cruel claws with a wide compass, and the Crab, 
that bends his claws in a different manner; nor is it easy for 
thee to govern the steeds spirited by those fires which they 
have in their breasts, and which they breathe forth from their 
months and their nostrils. Hardly are they restrained by 
me, when their high-mettled spirit is once heated, and their 
necks struggle against the reins. But do thou have a care, my 
son, that I be not the occasion of a gift fatal to thee, and while 
the matter still permits, alter thy intentions. Thou askest, 
forsooth, a sure proof that thou mayst believe thyself sprung 
from my blood ? I give thee a sure proof in thus being alarmed 
for thee ; and by my paternal apprehensions, I am shown to be 
thy father, Lo, behold my countenance! I wish, too, that 
thou couldst direct thy eyes into my breast, and discover my 
fatherly concern within! Finally, look around thee, upon 
whatever the rich world contains, and ask for anything out 
of the blessings, so many and so great, of heaven, of earth, 
and of sea, and thou shalt suffer no denial. In this one thing 
alone I beg to be excused, which, called by its right name, is a 
penalty, and not an honour; thou art asking, Phaeton, a pun- 
ishment instead of a gift. Why, in thy ignorance, art thou 
embracing my neck with caressing arms ? Doubt not ; what- 
ever thou shalt desire shall be granted thee (by the Stygian 
weaves I have sworn it) ; but do thou make thy desire more 

He had finished his admonitions ; and yet Phaeton resists 
his advice, and presses his point, and burns with eagerness 
for the chariot. Wherefore, his parent having delayed as 
long as he could, leads the young man to the lofty chariot, the 
gift of Vulcan. The axle-tree was of gold, the poles were of 
gold; the circumference of the exterior of the wheel was of 
gold; the range of the spokes was of silver. Chrysolites and 
gems placed along the yoke in order, gave a bright light from 
the reflected sun, Atid while the aspiring Phaeton is admir- 
ing these things, and is examining the workmanship, behold! 
the watchful Aurora opened her purple doors in the ruddy 
east, and her halls filled with roses. The stars disappear, the 
troops whereof Lucifer gathers, and moves the last from his 
station in the heavens. But the father Titan, when he beheld 

362 OVID 

the earth and the universe growing red, and the horns of the 
far-distant Moon, as if about to vanish, orders the swift 
Hours to yoke the horses. The Goddesses speedily perform 
his commands, and lead forth the steeds from the lofty stalls, 
snorting forth flames, and filled with the juice of Ambrosia; 
and then they put on the sounding bits. 

Then the father touched the face of his son with a hal- 
lowed drug, and made it able to endure the burning flames, 
and placed the rays upon his locks, and fetching from his 
troubled heart sighs presaging his sorrow, he said: "If thou 
canst here at least, my boy, obey the advice of thy father, be 
sparing of the whip, and use the bridle with nerve. Of their 
own accord they are wont to hasten on ; the difficulty is to 
check them in their full career. And let not the way attract 
thee through the five direct circles.^ There is a track cut ob- 
liquely, with a broad curvature, and bounded by the extremi- 
ties of three zones, and so it shuns the South pole, and the 
Bear united to the North. Let thy way be here; thou wilt 
perceive distinct traces of the wheels. And that heaven and 
earth may endure equal heat, neither drive too low, nor urge 
the chariot along the summit of the sky. Going forth too high, 
thou wilt set on fire the signs of the heavens; too low, the 
earth ; in the middle course thou wilt go most safely. Neither 
let the right wheel bear thee off towards the twisted Serpent, 
not let the left lead thee to the low Altar; hold thy course 
between them. The rest I leave to Fortune, who, I pray, may 
aid thee, and take more care of thee, than thou dost of thy- 
self. Whilst I am speaking, the moist Night has touched the 
goals placed on the Western shores ; delay is not allowed me. 
I am required ; the Morning is shining forth, the darkness be- 
ing dispersed. Seize the reins with thy hands; or if thou hast 
a mind capable of change, make use of my advice, and not 
my chariot, while thou art still able, and art even yet standing 
upon solid ground ; and while thou art not yet in thy ignorance 
filling the chariot that thou didst so unfortunately covet." 

The other leaps into the light chariot with his youthful 

1 Phoebus here counsels Phaeton what track to follow, and tells him 
to pursue his way by an oblique path, and not directly in the plane 
of the equator. 


body, and stands aloft, and rejoices to take in his hand the 
reins presented to him, and then gives thanks to his reluctant 
parent. In the meantime the swift Pyroeis, and Eoiis and 
/Ethon, the horses of the sun, and Phlegon, making the fourth, 
fill the air with neighings, sending forth flames, and beat the 
barriers with their feet. After Tethys, ignorant of the destiny 
of her grandson, had removed these, and the scope of the 
boundless universe was given them, they take the road, and 
moving their feet through the air, they cleave the resisting 
clouds, and raised aloft by their wings, they pass by the East 
winds that had arisen from the same parts. But the weight 
was light; and such as the horses of the sun could not feel; 
and the yoke was deficient of its wonted weight. And as 
the curving ships, without proper ballast, are tossed about, and 
unsteady, through their too great lightness, are borne through 
the sea, so does the chariot give bounds in the air, unimpeded 
by its usual burden, and is tossed on high, and is just like an 
empty one. 

Soon as the steeds have perceived this, they rush on, and 
leave the beaten track, and run not in the order in which they 
did before. He himself becomes alarmed; and knows not 
which way to turn the reins entrusted to him, nor does he 
know where the w^ay is, nor, if he did know, could he control 
them. Then, for the first time, did the cold Triones grow 
warm with sunbeams, and attempt, in vain, to be dipped in 
the sea that was forbidden to them. And the Serpent which 
is situate next to the icy pole, being before torpid with cold, 
and formidable to no one, grew warm, and regained new rage 
from the heat. They say, too, that thou, Bootes, being dis- 
turbed, took to flight; although thou wast but slow, and thy 
wain impeded thee. But when, from the height of the skies, 
the unhappy Phaeton looked down upon the earth, lying far, 
very far beneath, he grew pale, and his knees shook with a 
sudden terror ; and in a light so great, darkness overspread his 
eyes. And now he could wish that he had never touched the 
horses of his father; and now he is sorry that he knew his 
descent, and that he prevailed in his request; now desiring to 
be called the son of Merops. He is borne along, just as a ship 
driven by the furious Boreas, to which its pilot has given up 

364 OVID 

the overpowered helm, and which he has resigned to the Gods 
and the effect of his supplications. What can he do? much 
of heaven is left behind his back ; still more is before his eyes. 
Either space he measures in his mind ; and at one moment he 
is looking forward to the West, which it is not allowed him 
by fate to reach ; and sometimes he looks back upon the East. 
Ignorant what to do, he is stupified; and he neither lets go 
the reins, nor is he able to retain them ; nor does he know the 
names of the horses. In his fright, too, he sees strange objects 
scattered everywhere in various parts of the heavens, and the 
forms of huge wild beasts. There is a spot where the Scor- 
pion bends his arms into two curves, and with his tail and 
claws bending on either side, he extends his limbs through the 
space of two signs of the Zodiac. As soon as the youth be- 
held him wet with the sweat of black venom, and threatening 
wounds with the barbed point of his tail, bereft of sense, he 
let go the reins in a chill of horror. Soon as they, falling 
down, have touched the top of their backs, the horses range 
at large; and no one restraining them, they go through the 
air of an unknown region; and where their fury drives them 
thither, without check, do they hurry along, and they rush on 
to the stars fixed in the sky, and drag the chariot through 
pathless places. One while they are mounting aloft, and now 
they are borne through steep places, and along headlong paths 
in a tract nearer to the earth. 

The Moon, too, wonders that her brother's horses run 
lower than her own, and the scorched clouds send forth smoke. 
As each region is most elevated, it is caught by the flames, and 
cleft, it makes vast chasms, and becomes dry, its moisture be- 
ing carried away. The grass grows pale ; the trees, with their 
foliage, are burnt up ; and the dry standing corn affords fuel 
for its own destruction. But I am complaining of trifling ills. 
Great cities perish, together with their fortifications, and the 
flames turn whole nations, with their populations, into ashes ; 
woods, together with mountains, are on fire. Athos burns, 
and the Cilician Taurus, and Tmolus, and Qita, and Ida, now 
dry, but once most famed for its springs ; and Helicon, the 
resort of the Virgin Muses, and Hcemus,^ not yet called CEa- 

^This, which is now called the Balkan range, v/as a lofty chain of 
mountains running through Thrace. Orpheus, the son of CEagrus 


grian. ^tna ^ burns intensely with redoubled flames, and Par- 
nassus, with its two summits, and Eryx, and Cynthus. and 
Othrys, and Rhodope,^ at length to be despoiled of its snows, 
and Mimas, and Dindyma, and Mycale, and Cithseron,^ cre- 
ated for the performance of sacred rites. Nor does its cold 
avail even Scythia ; Caucasus is on fire, and Ossa with Pindus, 
and Olympus, greater than them both, and the lofty Alps, and 
the cloud-bearing Apennines. 

Then, indeed, Phaeton beholds the world set on fire on all 
sides, and he cannot endure heat so great, and he inhales with 
his mouth scorching air, as though from a deep furnace, and 
perceives his own chariot to be on fire. And neither is he 
able now to bear the ashes and the emitted embers; and, on 
every side, he is involved in heated smoke. Covered with a 
pitchy darkness, he knows not whither he is going, nor where 
he is, and is hurried away at the pleasure of the winged steeds. 
They believe that it was then that the nations of the /Ethio- 
pians contracted their black hue, the blood being attracted 
into the surface of the body. Then was Libya * made dry by 
the heat, the moisture being carried off ; then, with dishevelled 
hair, the Nymphs lamented the springs and the lakes, Boeotia 
bewails Dirce,^ Argos Amymone," and Ephyre,^ the waters of 

and Calliope, was there torn in pieces by the Maenades, or Baccha- 
nalian women, whence the mountain obtained the epithet of " QEa- 

^ This is the volcanic mountain of Sicily; the flames caused by the 
fall of Phaeton, added to its own, caused them to be redoubled. 
2 A high mountain, capped with perpetual snows, in the northern 
part of Thrace. 

^ A mountain of Boeotia, famous for the orgies of Bacchus, there 

* A region between Mauritania and Gyrene, here used for the whole 
of Africa. 

^ Dirce was a celebrated fountain of Boeotia, into which it was said 
that Dirce, the wife of Lycus, king of Thebes, was transformed, 
® It was a fountain of Argos, near Lerna, into which the Nymph, 
Amymone, the daughter of Lycus, king of the Argives, was said to 
have been transformed, 

■^ It was the most ancient name of Corinth, in the citadel of which, 
or the Acrocorinthus, was the spring Pyrene, of extreme bright- 
ness and purity, and sacred to the Muses. 

366 OVID 

Pireiie. Nor do rivers that have got banks distant in situa- 
tion, remain secure; Tanais smokes in the midst of its waters, 
and the aged Peneus, and Teuthrantian Ciiicus,^ and rapid 
Ismenus, w^ith Phocean Erymanthus, and Xanthus^ again to 
burn, and yellow Lycormas, and Maeander,^ which sports with 
winding streams, and the Mygdonian Melas,* and the Tasna- 
rian Eurotas.^ The Babylonian Euphrates, too, was on fire, 
Orontes was in flames, and the swift Thermodon and Ganges, 
and Phasis, and Ister.*' Alpheus boils; the banks of Sper- 
cheus burn ; and the gold which Tagus carries with its stream, 
melts in the flames. The river birds too, which made famous 
the Maeonian "^ banks of the river with their song, grew hot in 
the middle of Cayster. The Nile, affrighted, fled to the re- 
motest parts of the earth, and concealed his head, which still 
lies hid; his seven last months are empty, become seven mere 
channels, without any stream. The same fate dries up the Is- 
marian rivers, Hebrus together with Strymon, and the Hes- 
perian streams, the Rhine, and the Rhone, and the Po, and the 
Tiber, to which was promised the sovereignty of the world. 

All the ground bursts asunder; and through the chinks, 
the light penetrates into Tartarus, and startles the Infernal 
King with his spouse. The Ocean too, is contracted, and that 
which lately was sea, is a surface of parched sand; and the 
mountains which the deep sea had covered, start up, and in- 

1 A river of Mysia, here called " Teuthrantian," from Mount Teu- 
thras, in its vicinity. 

2 A river of Troy; here spoken of as destined to behold flames a 
second time, in the conflagration of that city. 

2 A river of Phrygia, flowing between Lydia and Caria; it was said 
to have 6oo windings in its course. 
* i. e., Black. 

^ A river of Laconia, which flowed under the walls of the city of 
Sparta, and discharged itself into the sea near the promontory of 
Taenarus, now called Cape Matapan. 

6 The Danube had that name from its source to the confines of Ger- 
many; and thence, in its course through Scythia to the sea, it was 
called by the name of " Ister." 

' Mseonia was so called from the River Maeon, and wa^ another name 
of Lydia. The Cayster, famous for its swans, flowed through Lydia. 


crease the number of the scattered Cyclades,^ The fishes 
sink to the bottom, and the crooked Dolphins do not care to 
raise themseh-es on the surface into the air, as usual. The 
bodies of sea calves float lifeless on their backs, on the top of 
the water. The story, too, is, that even Nereus himself, and 
Doris and their daughters, lay hid in the heated caverns. 
Three times had Neptune ventured, with a stern countenance, 
to thrust his arms out of the water; three times he was unable 
to endure the scorching heat of the air. However, the genial 
Earth, as she was surrounded with sea, amid the waters of 
the main, and the springs, dried up on every side, which had 
hidden themselves in the bowels of their cavernous parent, 
burnt-up, lifted up her all-productive face as far as her neck, 
and placed her hands to her forehead, and shaking all things 
with a vast trembling, she sank down a little, and retired be- 
low the spot where she is wont to be, and thus she spoke, with 
a parched voice : " O sovereign of the Gods, if thou approvest 
of this, if I have deserved it, why do thy lightnings linger? 
Let me, if doomed to perish by the force of fire, perish 
by thy flames; and alleviate my misfortune, by being the 
author of it. With difficulty, indeed, do I open my mouth 
for these very words;" (the vapour had oppressed her utter- 
ance). "Behold my scorched hair, and such a quantity of 
ashes over my eyes, so much, too, over my features. And 
dost thou give this as my recompense? this, as the reward of 
my fertility and of my duty, in that I endure wounds from 
the crooked plough and harrows, and am harassed all the year 
through? In that I supply green leaves for the cattle, and 
corn, a wholesome food for mankind, and frankincense for 
yourselves? But still, suppose that I am deserving of destruc- 
tion, why have the waves deserved this ? Why has thy brother 
deserved it? Why do the seas, delivered to him by lot, de- 
crease, and why do they recede still further from the sky? But 
if regard for neither thy brother nor for myself influences 
thee, still have consideration for thy own skies ; look around, 
on either side, how each pole is smoking; if the fire shall in- 

^ The Cyclades were a cluster of islands in the ^gean Sea, sur- 
rounding Delos as though with a circle, whence their name. 

368 OVID 

jure them, thy palace will fall in ruins. See! Atlas* himself 
is struggling, and hardly can he bear the glowing heavens on 
his shoulders. If the sea, if the earth perishes, if the palace 
of heaven, we are thrown into the confused state of ancient 
chaos. Save it from the flames, if aught still survives, and 
provide for the preservation of the universe." 

Thus spoke the Earth; nor, indeed, could she any longer 
endure the vapour, nor say more ; and she withdrew her face 
within herself, and the caverns neighbouring to the shades 


Jupiter, to save the universe from being consumed, hurls his 
thunder at Phaeton, on which he falls headlong into the 
river Eridanus. 

But the omnipotent father, having called the Gods above to 
witness, and him, too, who had given the chariot to Phaeton, 
that unless he gives assistance, all things will perish in dire- 
ful ruin, mounts aloft to the highest eminence, from which he 
is wont to spread the clouds over the spacious earth ; from 
which he moves his thunders, and hurls the brandished light- 
nings. But then, he had neither clouds that he could draw 
over the earth, nor showers that he could pour down from the 
sky. He thundered aloud, and darted the poised lightning 
from his right ear against the charioteer, and at the same mo- 
ment deprived him both of his life and his seat, and by his 
ruthless fires restrained the flames. The horses are affrighted, 
and making a bound in an opposite direction, they shake the 
yoke from off their necks, and disengage themselves from the 
torn harness. In one place lie the reins; in another, the 
axle-tree wrenched away from the pole; in another part are 
the spokes of the broken wheels; and the fragments of the 
chariot torn in pieces are scattered far and wide. But Phaeton, 
the flames consuming his yellow hair, is hurled headlong, and 
is borne in a long tract through the air; as sometimes a star 

^ A mountain of Mauritania, which, by reason of its height, was 
said to support the heavens. 


from the serene sky may appear to fall, although it really has 
not fallen. Him the great Eridanus receives, in a part of the 
world far distant from his country, and bathes his foaming 


The sisters of Phaeton are changed into poplars, and their 
tears become amber distilling from those trees. 

The Hesperian Naiads^ commit his body, smoking from 
the three-forked flames, to the tomb, and inscribe these verses 
on the stone : — " Here is Phaeton buried, the driver of his 
father's chariot, which if he did not manage, still he mis- 
carried in a great attempt." But his wretched father had 
hidden his face, overcast with bitter sorrow, and, if only we 
can believe it, they say that one day passed without the sun. 
The flames afforded light ; and so far, there was some advan- 
tage in that disaster. But Clymene, after she had said what- 
ever things were to be said amid misfortunes so great, tra- 
versed the whole earth, full of woe, and distracted, and tear- 
ing her bosom. And first seeking his lifeless limbs, and then 
his bones, she found his bones, however, buried on a foreign 
bank. She laid herself down on the spot ; and bathed with 
tears the name she read on the marble, and warmed it with 
her open breast. The daughters of the Sun mourn no less, 
and give tears, an unavailing gift, to his death; and beating 
their breasts with their hands, they call Phaeton both night and 
day, who is doomed not to hear their sad complaints ; and they 
lie scattered about the tomb. 

The Moon had four times filled her disk, by joining her 
horns; they, according to their custom, (for use had made 
custom) uttered lamentations; among whom Phaethusa, the 
eldest of the sisters, when she was desirous to lie on the 
ground, complained that her feet had grown stiff; to whom 
the fair Lampetie attempting to come, was detained by a root 

^ These were the Naiads of Italy. They were by name Phaethusa, 
Lampetie, and Phoebe. 

370 OVID 

suddenly formed. A third, when she is endeavouring to tear 
her hair with her hands, tears off leaves; one complains that 
her legs are held fast by the trunk of a tree, another that her 
arms are become long branches. And while they are won- 
dering at these things, bark closes upon their loins ; and by 
degrees, it encompasses their stomachs, their breasts, their 
shoulders, and their hands; and only their mouths are left 
uncovered, calling upon their mother. What is their mother 
to do? but run here and there, whither frenzy leads her, and 
join her lips with theirs, while yet she may? That is not 
enough ; she tries to pull their bodies out of the trunks of the 
trees, and with her hands to tear away the tender branches; 
but from whence drops of blood flow as from a wound. 
Whichever of them is wounded, cries out, " Spare me, mother, 
O spare me, I pray ; in the tree my body is being torn. And 
now farewell." The bark came over the last words. 

Thence tears flow forth; and amber distilling from the 
new-formed branches, hardens in the sun ; which the clear river 
receives and sends to be worn by the Latian matrons. 


Cycnus, king of Liguria, inconsolable for the death of 
Phaeton, is transformed into a szvan. 

Cycnus, the son of Sthenelus, was present at this strange 
event; who, although he was related to thee. Phaeton, on his 
mother's side, was yet more nearly allied in affection. He 
having left his kingdom, (for he reigned over the people and 
the great cities of the Ligurians^) was filling the verdant 
banks of the river Eridanus, and the wood, now augmented 
by the sisters, with his complaints; when the man's voice 
became shrill, and grey feathers concealed his hair, A long 
neck, too, extends from his breast, and a membrane joins his 
reddening toes ; feathers clothe his sides, and his mouth holds 

^ A people situate on the eastern side of Etruria, between the rivers 
Var and Macra. The Grecian writers were in the habit of styling 
the whole of the north of Italy Liguria. 


a bill without a point. Cycnus becomes a new bird; but he 
trusts himself not to the heavens or the air, as being mindful 
of the fire unjustly sent from thence. He frequents the pools 
and the wide lakes, and abhorring fire, he chooses the streams, 
the very contrary of flames. 

Meanwhile, the father of Phaeton, in squalid garb, and des- 
titute of his comeliness, just as he is wont to be when he 
suffers an eclipse of his disk, abhors both the light, himself, 
and the day ; and gives his mind up to grief, and adds resent- 
ment to his sorrow, and denies his services to the world, " My 
lot," says he, " has been restless enough from the very begin- 
ning of time, and I am tired of labours endured by me, with- 
out end and without honour. Let any one else drive the 
chariot that carries the light. If there is one, and all the Gods 
confess that they cannot do it, let Jupiter himself drive it; 
that, at least, while he is trying my reins, he may for a time 
lay aside the lightnings that bereave fathers. Then he will 
know, having made trial of the strength of the flame-footed 
steeds, that he who did not successfully guide them, did not 
deserve death." 

All the Deities stand around the Sun, as he says such 
things; and they entreat him with suppliant voice, not to de- 
termine to bring darkness over the world. Jupiter, as well, 
excuses the hurling of his lightnings, and imperiously adds 
threats to entreaties. Phcebus calls together his steeds, mad- 
dened and still trembling with terror, and subduing them, 
vents his fury both with whip and lash ; for he is furious, and 
upbraids them with his son, and charges his death upon them. 


Jupiter, while faking a survey of the zvorld, to extinguish the 
remains of the fire, falls in love zvith Calisto, whom he sees 
in Arcadia; and, in order to seduce that Nymph, he assumes 
the form of Diana. Her sister Nymphs disclose her mis- 
fortune before the Goddess, who drives her from her com- 
pany, on account of the violation of her vow of chastity. 

But the omnipotent father surveys the vast walls of heaven, 
and carefully searches, that no part, impaired by the violence 

372 ovm 

of the fire, may fall to ruin. After he has seen them to be 
secure and in their own full strength, he examines the earth, 
and the works of man ; yet a care for his own Arcadia is more 
particularly his object. He restores, too, the springs and the 
rivers, that had not yet dared to flow, he gives grass to the 
earth; green leaves to the trees; and orders the injured forests 
again to be green. While thus he often went to and fro, he 
stopped short on seeing a virgin of Nonacris, and the fires en- 
gendered within his bones received fresh heat. It was not 
her employment to soften the wool by teasing, nor to vary her 
tresses in their arrangement ; while a buckle fastened her gar- 
ment, and a white fillet her hair, carelessly flowing ; and at one 
time she bore in her hand a light javelin, at another, a bow. 
She was a warrior of Phoebe ; nor did any Nymph frequent 
Masnalus, more beloved by Trivia,^ than she ; but no influence 
is of long duration. The lofty Sun had now obtained a posi- 
tion beyond the mid course, when she enters a grove which no 
generation has ever cut. Here she puts her quiver off from 
her shoulders, and unbends her pliant bow, and lies down on 
the ground, which the grass had covered, and presses her 
painted quiver, with her neck laid on it. When Jupiter saw 
her thus weary, and without a protector, he said, " For certain, 
my wife will know nothing of this stolen embrace; or, if she 
should chance to know, is her scolding, is it, I say, of such 
great consequence ? " 

Immediately he puts on the form and dress of Diana, and 
says, " O Virgin ! one portion of my train, upon what moun- 
tains hast thou been hunting?" The virgin raises herself 
from the turf, and says, " Hail, Goddess ! that art, in my 
opinion, greater than Jove, even if he himself should hear it." 
He both smiles and he hears it, and is pleased at being pre- 
ferred to himself; and he gives her kisses, not very moderate, 
nor such as would be given by a virgin. He stops her as she 

^ An epithet of Diana, as presiding over and worshipped in the 
places where three roads met, which were called " trivia." Being 
known as Diana on earth, the Moon in the heavens, and Proserpine 
in the infernal regions, she was represented at these places with 
three faces; those of a horse, a female, and a dog. 


is preparing to tell him in what wood she has been hunting, by 
an embrace, and he does not betray himself without the com- 
mission of violence. She, indeed, on the other hand, as far 
as a woman could do, (would that thou hadst seen her, daugh- 
ter of Saturn, then thou wouldst have been more merciful) 
she, indeed, I say, resists; but what damsel, or who besides, 
could prevail against Jupiter? Jove, now the conqueror, seeks 
the heavens above; the grove and the conscious wood is now 
her aversion. Making her retreat thence, she is almost for- 
getting to take away her quiver with her arrows, and the bow 
which she had hung up. 

Behold, Dictynna,^ attended by her train, as she goes along 
the lofty Msenalus, and exulting in the slaughter of the wild 
beasts, beholds her, and calls her, thus seen. Being so called, 
she drew back, and at first was afraid lest Jupiter might be un- 
der her shape; but after she saw the Nymphs walking along 
with her, she perceived there was no deceit, and she approached 
their train. Alas ! how difficult it is not to betray a crime by 
one's looks. She scarce raises her eyes from the ground, nor, 
as she used to do, does she walk by the side of the Goddess, 
nor is she the foremost in the whole company; but she is 
silent, and by her blushes she gives sign of her injured honour. 
And Diana, but for the fact, that she is a virgin, might have 
perceived her fault by a thousand indications : the Nymphs are 
said to have perceived it. 

The horns of the Moon were now rising again in her ninth 
course, when the hunting Goddess, faint from her brother's 
flames, lighted on a cool grove, out of which a stream ran, 
flowing with its murmuring noise, and borne along the sand 
worn fine by its action. When she had approved of the spot, 
she touched the surface of the water with her foot ; and com- 
mending it as well, she says, "All overlookers are far off; let 
us bathe our bodies, with the stream poured over them." She 
of Parrhasia " blushed; they all put off their clothes; she alone 

^ Diana was so called from the Greek word diktus, " a net," which 
was used by her for the purposes of hunting. 

' Calisto is so called from Parrhasia, a region of Arcadia, whose 
name was derived from Parrhasus, a son of Lycaon. 
XI— 25 

374 OVID 

sought an excuse for delay. Her garment was removed as she 
hesitated, which being put off, her fault was exposed with her 
naked body. Cynthia said to her, in confusion, and endeav- 
ouring to conceal her stomach with her hands, " Begone afar 
hence! and pollute not the sacred springs;" and she ordered 
her to leave her train. 


Juno, being jealous that Calisto has attracted Jupiter, trans- 
forms her into a Bear. Her son. Areas, not recognising 
his mother in that shape, is about to kill her; but Jupiter 
removes them both to the skies, where they form the Con- 
stellations of the Great and the Little Bear. The raven, as a 
punishment for his garrulity, is changed from white to 

The spouse of the great Thunderer had perceived this 
some time before, and had put off the severe punishment de- 
signed for her, to a proper time. There is now no reason for 
delay; and now the boy Areas (that, too, was a grief to Juno) 
was born of the mistress of her husband. Wherefore, she 
turned her thoughts, full of resentment, and her eyes upon 
her, and said, " This thing, forsooth, alone was wanting, thou 
adulteress, that thou shouldst be pregnant, and that my injury 
should become notorious by thy labours, and that thereby the 
disgraceful conduct of my husband, Jupiter, should be openly 
declared. Thou shalt not go unpunished ; for I will spoil that 
shape of thine, on which thou pridest thyself, and by which 
thou, mischievous one, dost charm my husband." 

Thus she spoke; and seizing her straight in front by the 
hair, threw her on her face to the ground. She suppliantly 
stretched forth her arms; those arms began to grow rough 
with black hair, and her hands to be bent, and to increase to 
hooked claws, and to do the duty of feet, and the mouth, that 
was once admired by Jupiter, to become deformed with a 
wide opening; and lest her prayers, and words not heeded, 
should influence her feelings, the power of speech is taken 
from her ; an angry and threatening voice, and full of terror, 


is uttered from her hoarse throat. Still, her former under- 
standing remains in her, even thus become a bear; and ex- 
pressing her sorrows by her repeated groans, she lifts up her 
hands, such as they are, to heaven and to the stars, and she 
deems Jove ungrateful, though she cannot call him so. Ah! 
how often, not daring to rest in the lonely wood, did she 
wander about before her own house, and in the fields once her 
own. Ah ! how often was she driven over the crags by the cry 
of the hounds ; and, a huntress herself, she fled in alarm, 
through fear of the hunters! Often, seeing the wild beasts, 
did she lie concealed, forgetting what she was ; and, a bear 
herself, dread the he-bears seen on the mountains, and was 
alarmed at the wolves, though her father was among them. 

Behold ! Areas, the offspring of the daughter of Lycaon, 
ignorant of who is his parent, approaches her, thrice five birth- 
days being now nearly past; and while he is following the 
wild beasts, while he is choosing the proper woods, and is 
enclosing the Erymanthian forests^ with his platted nets, he 
meets with his mother. She stood still, upon seeing Areas, 
and was like one recognizing another. He drew back, and, 
in his ignorance, was alarmed at her keeping her eyes fixed 
upon him without ceasing; and, as she was desirous to ap- 
proach still nearer, he would have pierced her breast with the 
wounding spear. Omnipotent Jove averted this, and removed 
both them and such wickedness; and placed them, carried 
through vacant space with a rapid wind, in the heavens, and 
made them neighbouring Constellations. 

Juno sw^elled with rage after the mistress shone amid the 
stars, and descended on the sea to the hoary Tethys, and 
the aged Ocean, a regard for whom has often influenced the 
Gods ; and said to them, enquiring the reason of her coming, 
" Do you enquire why I, the queen of the Gods, am come 
hither from the ?ethereal abodes? Another has possession of 
heaven in my stead. May I be deemed untruthful, if, when 
the night has made the world dark, you see not in the highest 

^ Erymanthus was a mountain of Arcadia, which was afterwards 
famous for the slaughter there, by Hercules, of the wild boar, which 
made it his haunt. 

376 OVID 

part of heaven stars but lately thus honoured to my affliction ; 
there, where the last and most limited circle surrounds the 
extreme part of the axis of the world. Is there, then, any 
ground why one should hesitate to affront Juno, and dread my 
being offended, who only benefit them by my resentment? 
See what a great thing I have done ! How vast is my power ! 
I forbade her to be of human shape; she has been made a 
Goddess ; 'tis thus that I inflict punishment on offenders ; such 
is my mighty power! Let him obtain for her her former 
shape, and let him remove this form of a wild beast; as he 
formerly did for the Argive Phoronis. Why does he not 
marry her as well, divorcing Juno, and place her in my couch, 
and take Lycaon for his father-in-law? But if the wrong 
done to your injured foster-child affects you, drive the seven 
Triones away from your azure waters, and expel the stars 
received into heaven as the reward of adultery, that a con- 
cubine may not be received into your pure waves." 

The Gods of the sea granted her request. The daughter 
of Saturn enters the liquid air in her graceful chariot, with 
her variegated peacocks; peacocks just as lately tinted, upon 
the killing of Argus, as thou, garrulous raven, hadst been 
suddenly transformed into a bird having black wings, whereas 
thou hadst been white before. For this bird was formerly of 
a silver hue, with snow-white feathers, so that he equalled the 
doves entirely without spot; nor would he give place to the 
geese that were to save the Capitol by their watchful voice, nor 
to the swan haunting the streams. His tongue was the cause 
of his disgrace ; his chattering tongue being the cause, that the 
colour which was white is now the reverse of white. 

There was no one more beauteous in all Hsemonia than 
Larissaean ^ Coronis. At least, she pleased thee, Delphian God, 
as long as she continued chaste, or was not the object of re- 
mark. But the bird of PhcEbus found out her infidelity ; and 
the inexorable informer winged his way to his master, that 
he might disclose the hidden offence. Him the prattling crow 
follows, with flapping wings, to make all enquiries of him. 
And having heard the occasion of his journey, he says, '* Thou 

^ Larissa was the chief city of Thessaly. 


art going on a fruitless errand; do not despise the presages of 
my voice." 


A virgin, the favourite of Apollo, of the same name with 
Coronis, is changed into a crow, for a story which she tells 
Minerva, concerning the basket in which Ericthonius zvas 

"Consider ^vhat I was, and what I am, and enquire into 
my deserts. Thou wilt find that my fidelity was my ruin. For 
once upon a time, Pallas had enclosed Ericthonius, an off- 
spring born without a mother, in a basket made of Actaean 
twigs ; and had given it to keep to the three virgins born of 
the two-shaped^ Cecrops, and had given them this injunction, 
that they should not enquire into her secrets. I, being hidden 
among the light foliage, was watching from a thick elm what 
they were doing. Two of them, Pandrosos and Herse, ob- 
serve their charge without any treachery ; Aglauros alone calls 
her sisters cowards, and unties the knots with her hand; but 
within they behold a child, and a dragon extended by him. I 
told the Goddess what was done; for which such a return as 
this is made to me, that I am said to have been banished from 
the protection of Minerva, and am placed after the bird of 
the night. My punishment may warn birds not to incur 
dangers, by their chattering. But I consider that she courted 
me with no inclination of my own, nor asking for any such 
favours. This thou mayst ask of Pallas thyself; although 
she is angry, she will not, with all her anger, deny this. For 
Coroneus, one^ famous in the land of Phocis, (I mention what 
is well known) begot me; and so I was a virgin of royal birth, 
and was courted by rich suitors (so despise me not). My 
beauty was the cause of my misfortune ; for while I was pass- 
ing with slow steps along the sea shore, on the surface of the 

^ Cecrops is here so called from the fact of his having been born 
in Egypt, and having settled in Greece, and was thus to be reck- 
oned both as an Egyptian, and in the number of the Greeks. 

378 OVID 

sand, as I was wont to do, the God of the Ocean beheld me, 
and was inflamed ; and when he had consumed his time to no 
purpose, in entreating me with soft words, he prepared to use 
violence, and followed me. I fled, and I left the firm shore, 
and wearied myself in vain on the yielding sand. Then I in- 
voked both Gods and men; but my voice did not reach any 
mortal. A virgin was moved for a virgin, and gave me as- 
sistance. I was extending my arms toward heaven ; when 
those arms began to grow black with light feathers. I strug- 
gled to throw my garments from off my shoulders, but they 
were feathers, and had taken deep root in my skin. I tried 
to beat my naked breast with my hands, but I had now neither 
hands nor naked breast. I ran ; and the sand did not retard 
my feet as before, and I was lifted up from the surface of 
the ground. After that, being lifted up, I was carried through 
the air, and was assigned, as a faultless companion, to Mi- 
nerva. Yet what does this avail me, if Nyctimene, made a bird 
for a horrid crime, has succeeded me in my honour ? " 


Nyctimene, having entertained a criminal passion for her 
father, Nycteiis, the Gods, to punish her incest, transform 
her into an owl. Apollo pierces the breast of Coronis zvith 
an arrow, on the raven informing him of the infidelity of 
his mistress. 

" Has not the thing, which is very well known throughout 
the whole of Lesbos, been heard of b}'- thee, that Nyctimene 
defiled the bed of her father? She is a bird indeed; but being 
conscious of her crime, she avoids the human gaze and the 
light, conceals her shame in the darkness ; and by all tlie birds 
she is expelled from the sky." 

The raven says to him, saying such things, " May this, thy 
calling of me back, prove a mischief to thee, I pray; I despise 
the worthless omen." Nor does he drop his intended journey; 
and he tells his master, that he has seen Coronis lying down 
with a youth of Hsemonia. On hearing the crime of his mistress, 


his laurel fell down ; and at the same moment his usual looks, 
his plectrum/ and his colour, forsook the God. And as his 
mind was now burning with swelling rage, he took up his 
wonted arms, and levelled his bow bent from the extremities, 
and pierced, with an unerring shaft, that bosom, that had been 
so oft pressed to his own breast. Wounded, she uttered a 
groan, and, drawing the steel from out of the wound, she 
bathed her white limbs with purple blood ; and she said, " I 
might justly, Phoebus, have been punished by thee, but still I 
might have first brought forth ; now we two shall die in one." 
Thus far she spoke; and she poured forth her life, together 
with her blood. A deadly coldness took possession of her 
body deprived of life. 

The lover, too late, alas! repents of his cruel vengeance, 
and blames himself that he listened to the bird, and that he 
was so infuriated. He hates the bird, through which he was 
forced to know of the crime and the cause of his sorrow; he 
hates, too, the string, the bow, and his hand; and together 
with his hand, those rash weapons, the arrows. He cherishes 
her fallen to the ground, and by late resources endeavours to 
conquer her destiny ; and in vain he practises his physical arts. 

When he found that these attempts were made in vain, and 
that the funereal pile was being prepared, and that her limbs 
were about to be burnt in the closing flames, then, in truth, 
he gave utterance to sighs fetched from the bottom of his 
heart (for it is not allowed the celestial features to be bathed 
with tears). No otherwise than, as when an axe, poised from 
the right ear of the butcher, dashes to pieces, with a clean 
stroke, the hollow temples of the sucking calf, while the dam 
looks on. Yet after Phoebus had poured the unavailing per- 
fumes on her breast, when he had given the last embrace and 
had performed the due obsequies prematurely hastened, he did 
not suffer his own offspring to sink into the same ashes ; but he 
snatched the child from the flames and from the womb of his 
mother, and carried him into the cave of the two-formed 
Chiron. And he forbade the raven, expecting for himself the 

^ This was a little rod, or staff, with which the player used to strike 
the strings of the lyre, or cithara, on which he was playing. 

380 OVID 

reward of his tongue that told no untruth, to perch any longer 
among the white birds. 


Ocyrrhoe, the daughter of the Centaur Chiron, attempting to 
predict future events, tells her father the fate of the child 
^sculapius, on which the Gods transform her into a mare. 

In the meantime the half-beast Chiron was proud of a pupil 
of Divine origin, and rejoiced in the honour annexed to the re- 
sponsibility. Behold! the daughter of the Centaur comes, 
having her shoulders covered with her yellow hair; whom 
once the nymph Chariclo,^ having borne her on the banks of 
a rapid stream, called Ocyrrhoe. She was not contented to 
earn her father's arts only; but she sang the secrets of the 
Fates. Therefore, when she had conceived in her mind the 
prophetic transports, and grew warm with the God, whom she 
held confined within her breast, she beheld the infant, and 
she said, " Grow on, child, the giver of health to the whole 
world; the bodies of mortals shall often owe their own ex- 
istence to thee. To thee will it be allowed to restore life when 
taken away; and daring to do that once against the will of the 
Gods, thou wilt be hindered by the bolts of thy grandsire from 
being able any more to grant that boon. And from a God thou 
shalt become a lifeless carcase; and a God again, who lately 
wast a carcase; and twice shalt thou renew thy destiny. 
Thou likewise, dear father, now immortal, and produced at 
thy nativity, on the condition of enduring for ever, wilt then 
wish that thou couldst die, when thou shall be tormented on 
receiving the blood of a baneful serpent ^ in thy wounded 
limbs ; and the Gods shall make thee from an immortal being, 

1 She was the daughter of Apollo, or of Oceanus, but is supposed 
not to have been the same person that is mentioned by ApoUodorus 
as the mother of the prophet Tiresias. 

2 This happened when one of the arrows of Hercules, dipped in the 
poison of the Lernsean Hydra, pierced the foot of Chiron while he 
was examining it. 


subject to death, and the three Goddesses^ shall cut thy 

Something still remained in addition to what she had said. 
She heaved a sigh from the bottom of her breast, and the 
tears bursting forth, trickled down her cheeks, and thus she 
said : " The Fates prevent me, and I am forbidden to say any 
more, and the use of my voice is precluded. My arts, which 
have brought the wrath of a Divinity upon me, were not of so 
much value; I wish that I had not been acquainted with the 
future. Now the human shape seems to be withdrawing from 
me ; now grass pleases me for my food ; now I have a desire 
to range over the extended plains; I am turned into a mare, 
and into a shape kindred to that of my father. But yet, why 
entirely? For my father partakes of both forms." 

As she was uttering such words as these, the last part of 
her complaint was but little understood; and her words were 
confused. And presently neither were they words indeed nor 
did it appear to be the voice of a mare, but of one imitating a 
mare. And in a little time she uttered perfect neighing, and 
stretched her arms upon the grass. Then did her fingers grow 
together, and a smooth hoof united five nails in one continued 
piece of horn. The length of her face and of her neck in- 
creased ; the greatest part of her long hair became a tail. And 
as the hairs lay scattered about her neck, they were trans- 
formed into a mane lying upon the right side ; at once both her 
voice and her shape were changed. And this wondrous change 
gave her the new name of Enippe. 

^ Namely, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, the " Parcse," or " Des- 

382 OVID 


Mercury, having stolen the oxen of Apollo, and Battus having 
perceived the theft, he engages him, by a present, to keep 
the matter secret. Mistrusting, hozvever, his -fidelity, he as- 
sumes another shape, and tempting him zvith presents, he 
succeeds in corrupting him. To punish his treachery, the 
God changes him into a touchstone. 

The Philyrean ^ hero wept, and in vain, God of Delphi, 
implored thy assistance; but neither couldst thou reverse the 
orders of great Jupiter, nor, if thou couldst have reversed 
them, wast thou then present ; for then thou wast dwelling in 
Elis and the Messenian fields. This was the time when a 
shepherd's skin garment was covering thee, and a stick cut out 
of the wood was the burden of thy left hand, and of the other, 
a pipe unequal with its seven reeds. And while love is thy 
concern, while thy pipe is soothing thee, some cows are said to 
have strayed unobserved into the plains of Pylos. The son of 
Maia, the daughter of Atlas, observes them, and with his usual 
skill hides them, driven off, in the woods. Nobody but an old 
man, well-known in that country, had noticed the theft; all 
the neighbourhood called him Battus. He was keeping the 
forests and the grassy pastures, and the set of fine-bred mares 
of the rich Neleus.^ 

Mercury was afraid of him, and took him aside with a 
gentle hand, and said to him, " Come, stranger, whoever thou 
art, if, perchance, anyone should ask after these herds, deny 
that thou hast seen them ; and, lest no requital be paid thee for 
so doing, take a handsome cow as thy reward ; " and there- 
upon he gave him one. On receiving it, the stranger returned 
this answer : " Thou mayst go in safety. May that stone first 
make mention of thy theft ; " and he pointed to a stone. The 
son of Jupiter feigned to go away. But soon he returned, and 
changing his form, together with his voice, he said, " Country- 

^ Chiron was the son of Philyra, by Saturn. 
2 The king of Pylos, and the father of Nestor. 


man, if thou hast seen any cows pass along this way, give me 
thy help, and break silence about the theft; a female, coupled 
together with its bull shall be presented thee as a reward." But 
the old man, after his reward was thus doubled, said, " They 
will be beneath those hills ; " and beneath those hills they really 
were. The son of Atlas laughed and said, " Dost thou, 
treacherous man, betray me to my own self? Dost betray me 
to myself? " and then he turned his perjured breast into a hard 
stone, w^hich even now" is called the '* Touchstone ; " ^ and this 
old disgrace is attached to the stone that really deserves it not. 


Mercury, falling in love with Hcrse, the daughter of Cecrops, 
endeavours to engage Aglauros in his interest, and by her 
means, to obtain access to her sister. She refuses to assist 
him, unless he promises to present her with a large sum of 

Hence, the bearer of the caduceus raised himself upon 
equal wings ; and as he flew, he looked down upon the fields of 
Munychia," and the land pleasing to Minerva, and the groves 
of the well-planted Lycseus. On that day, by chance, the 
chaste virgins were, in their purity, carrying the sacred offer- 
ings in baskets crowned with flowers, upon their heads to the 
joyful citadel of Pallas. The winged Gods beholds them re- 
turning thence ; and he does not shape his course directly for- 
ward, but wheels round in the same circle. As that bird swift- 
est in speed, the kite, on espying the entrails, while he is afraid, 
and the priests stand in numbers around the sacrifice, wings 
his flight in circles, and yet ventures not to go far away, and 
greedily hovers around the object of his hopes with waving 
wangs, so does the active Cyllenian God bend his course over 
the Actsean towers, and circles round in the same air. As 

^ " Index " (Touchstone) was also a name of infamy, corresponding 
with our term " spy." 

^ A promontory and harbour of Attica, so called from IMunychius, 
who there built a temple in honour of Diana. 

384 OVID 

much as Lucifer shines more brightly than the other stars, 
and as much as the golden Phoebe shines more brightly than 
thee, O Lucifer, so much superior was Herse, as she went, to 
all the other virgins, and was the ornament of the solemnity 
and of her companions. The son of Jupiter was astonished 
at her beauty ; and as he hung in the air, he burned no other- 
wise than as when the Balearic ^ sling throws forth the plum- 
met of lead ; it flies and becomes red hot in its course, and finds 
beneath the clouds the fires which it had not before. 

He alters his course, and, having left heaven, goes a differ- 
ent way; nor does he disguise himself; so great is his confi- 
dence in his beauty. This, though it is every way complete, 
still he improves by care, and smooths his hair and adjusts 
his mantle, that it may hang properly, so that the fringe and 
all the gold may be seen ; and minds that his long smooth wand, 
with which he induces and drives away sleep, is in his right 
hand, and that his wings shine upon his beauteous feet. 

A private part of the house had three bed-chambers, 
adorned with ivory and with tortoiseshell, of which thou, 
Pandrosos, hadst the right-hand one, Aglauros the left-hand, 
and Herse had the one in the middle. She that occupied the 
left-hand one was the first to remark Mercury approaching, 
and she ventured to ask the name of the God, and the occasion 
of his coming. To her thus answered the grandson of Atlas 
and of Pleione : " I am he who carries the commands of my 
father through the air. Jupiter himself is my father. Nor 
will I invent pretences ; do thou only be willing to be attached 
to thy sister, and to be called the aunt of my offspring. Herse 
is the cause of my coming; I pray thee to favour one in love." 
Aglauros looks upon him with the same eyes with which she 
had lately looked upon the hidden mysteries of the yellow- 
haired Minerva, and demands for her agency gold of great 
weight ; and, in the mean time, obliges him to go out of the 
house. The warlike Goddess turned upon her the orbs of her 
stern eyes, and drew a sigh from the bottom of her heart, with 

^ The Baleares were the islands of Majorca, Minorca, and Iviza, in 
the Mediterranean, near the coast of Spain. The natives of these 
islands were famous for their skill in the use of the sling. 


so great a motion, that she heaved both her breast and the 
TEgis placed before her vahant breast. It occurred to her that 
she had laid open her secrets with a profane hand, at the time 
when she held progeny created for the God who inhabits 
Lemnos,^ without a mother, and contrary to the assigned laws ; 
and that she could now be agreeable both to the God and to 
the sister of Aglauros, and that she would be enriched by 
taking the gold, which she, in her avarice, had demanded. 
Forthwith she repairs to the abode of Envy, hideous with 
black gore. Her abode is concealed in the lowest recesses of a 
cave, wanting sun, and not pervious to any wnnd, dismal and 
filled with benumbing cold ; and which is ever without fire, and 
ever abounding with darkness. 


Pallas commands Envy to make Aglauros jealous of her sister 
Herse. Envy obeys the request of the Goddess; and Ag- 
lauros, stung zvith that passion, continues obstinate in op- 
posing Mercury's passage to her sister's apartment, for 
which the God changes her into a statue. 

When the female warrior, to be dreaded in battle, came 
hither, she stood before the abode, (for she did not consider 
it lawful to go under the roof,) and she struck the door-posts 
with the end of the spear. The doors, being shaken, flew 
open; she sees Envy within, eating the flesh of vipers, the nu- 
triment of her own bad propensities; and when she sees her, 
she turns away her eyes. But the other rises sluggishly from 
the ground, and leaves the bodies of the serpents half de- 
voured, and stalks along with sullen pace. And when she sees 
the Goddess graced with beauty and with splendid arms, she 
groans and fetches a deep sigh at her appearance. A paleness 
rests on her face, and leanness in all her body ; she never looks 

^ Being precipitated from heaven for his deformity, Vulcan fell upon 
the Isle of Lemnos, in the JEgcan Sea, where he exercised the craft 
of a blacksmith, according to the mythologists. The birth of Eri<:- 
thonius, by the aid of Minerva, is here referred to. 

386 OVID 

direct on you ; her teeth are black with rust ; her breast is 
green with gall; her tongue is dripping with venom. Smiles 
there are none, except such as the sight of grief has excited. 
Nor does she enjoy sleep, being kept awake with watchful 
cares; but sees with sorrow the successes of men, and pines 
away at seeing them. She both torments and is tormented 
at the same moment, and is ever her own punishment. Yet, 
though Tritonia ^ hated her, she spoke to her briefly in such 
words as these: "Infect one of the daughters of Cecrops 
with thy poison ; there is occasion so to do ; Aglauros is she." 

Saying no more, she departed, and spurned the ground 
with her spear impressed on it. She, beholding the Goddess 
as she departed, with a look askance, uttered a few murmurs, 
and grieved at the success of Minerva; and took her staff, 
which wreaths of thorns entirely surrounded; and veiled in 
black clouds, wherever she goes she tramples down the bloom- 
ing fields, and burns up the grass, and crops the tops of the 
flowers. With her breath, too, she pollutes both nations and 
cities, and houses ; and at last she descries the Tritonian ^ cita- 
del, flourishing in arts and riches, and cheerful peace. Hardly 
does she restrain her tears, because she sees nothing to weep 
at. But after she has entered the chamber of the daughter of 
Cecrops, she executes her orders ; and touches her breast with 
her hand stained with rust, and fills her heart with jagged 
thorns. She breathes into her as well the noxious venom, and 
spreads the poison black as pitch throughout her bones, and 
lodges it in the midst of her lungs. 

And that these causes of mischief may not wander through 
too wide a space, she places her sister before her eyes, and 
the fortunate marriage of that sister, and the God under his 
beauteous appearance, and aggravates each particular. By 
this the daughter of Cecrops being irritated, is gnawed by a 
secret grief, and groans, tormented by night, tormented by 
day, and wastes away, in extreme wretchedness, with a slow 

^ Minerva, so called either from the Cretan word trito, signifying " a 
head," as she sprang from the head of Jupiter ; or from Trito, a 
lake of Libya, near which she was said to have been born. 
2 Athens, namely, which was sacred to Minerva. 


consumption, as ice smitten upon by a sun often clouded. She 
burns at the good fortune of the happy Herse, no other- 
wise than as when fire is placed beneath thorny reeds, which 
do not send forth flames, and burn with a gentle heat. Often 
does she wish to die, that she may not be a witness to any 
such thing ; often, to tell the matters, as criminal, to her severe 
father. At last, she sat herself down in the front of the 
threshold, in order to exclude the God when he came; to 
whom, as he proffered blandishments and entreaties, and words 
of extreme kindness, she said, " Cease all this ; I shall not 
remove myself hence, until thou art repulsed." " Let us stand 
to that agreement," says the active Cyllenian God; and he 
opens the carved door with his wand. But in her, as she 
endeavours to rise, the parts which we bend in sitting cannot 
be moved, through their numbing weight. She, indeed, 
struggles to raise herself, with her body, upright; but the 
joints of her knees are stiff, and a chill runs through her nails, 
and her veins are pallid, through the loss of blood. 

And as the disease of an incurable cancer is wont to spread 
in all directions, and to add the uninjured parts to the tainted; 
so, by degrees, did a deadly chill enter her breast, and stop 
the passages of life, and her respiration. She did not en- 
deavour to speak; but if she had endeavoured, she had no 
passage for her voice. Stone had now possession of her neck; 
her face was grown hard, and she sat, a bloodless statue. 
Nor was the stone white ; her mind had stained it. 


Jupiter assumes the shape of a Bull, and carrying off Europa, 
szvims zvith her on his back to the isle of Crete. 

When the grandson of Atlas had inflicted this punishment 
upon her words and her profane disposition, he left the lands 
named after Pallas, and entered the skies with his waving 
wings. His father calls him on one side ; and, not owning 
the cause of his love, he says, " My son, the trusty minister 
of my commands, banish delay, and swiftly descend with thy 

388 OVID 

usual speed, and repair to the region which looks towards thy 
Constellation mother on the left side, (the natives call it 
Sidon) and drive toward the sea-shore, the herd belonging 
to the king, which thou seest feeding afar upon the grass of 
the mountain." 

Thus he spoke ; and already were the bullocks, driven from 
the mountain, making for the shore named, where the daugh- 
ter of the great king, attended by Tyrian virgins, was wont to 
amuse herself. Majesty and love but ill accord, nor can they 
continue in the same abode. The father and the ruler of the 
Gods, whose right hand is armed with the three-forked flames ; 
who shakes the world with his nod, laying aside the dignity of 
empire, assumes the appearance of a bull; and mixing with 
the oxen, he lows, and, in all his beauty, walks about upon 
the shooting grass. For his colour is that of snow, which 
neither the soles of hard feet have trodden upon, nor the 
watery South wind melted. His neck swells with muscles; 
dewlaps hang from between his shoulders. His horns are small 
indeed, and such as you might maintain were made with 
the hand, and more transparent than a bright gem. There is 
nothing threatening in his forehead ; nor is his eye formidable ; 
his countenance expresses peace. 

The daughter of Agenor is surprised that he is so beautiful, 
and that he threatens no attack; but although so gentle, she 
is at first afraid to touch him. By and by she approaches him, 
and holds out flowers to his white mouth. The lover rejoices, 
and till his hoped-for pleasure comes, he gives kisses to her 
hands ; scarcely, oh, scarcely, does he defer the rest. And now 
he plays with her, and skips upon the green grass ; and now he 
lays his snow-white side upon the yellow sand. And, her fear 
now removed by degrees, at one moment he gives his breast 
to be patted by the hand of the virgin; at another, his horns 
to be wreathed with new-made garlands. The virgin of royal 
birth even ventured to sit down upon the back of the bull, not 
knowing upon whom she was pressing. Then the God, by 
degrees moving from the land, and from the dry shore, places 
the fictitious hoofs of his feet in the waves near the brink. 
Then he goes still further, and carries his prize over the ex- 
panse of the midst of the ocean. She is affrighted, and, 


borne off, looks back on the shore she has left ; and with her 
right hand she grasps his horn, while the other is placed on 
his back ; her waving garments are ruffled by the breeze. 



Jupiter, having carried away Europa, her father, Agenor, 
commands his son Cadmus to go immediately in search of 
her, and either to bring hack his sister with him, or never 
to return to Phoenicia. Cadmus, wearied with his toils and 
fruitless enquiries, goes to considt the oracle at Delphi, 
which bids him observe the spot zvhere he should see a cow 
lie dozvn, and build a city there, and give the name of Boeo- 
iia to the country. 

And now the God, having laid aside the shape of the de- 
ceiving Bull, had discovered himself, and reached the Dic- 
tccan land; when her father, ignorant of her fate, commands 
Cadmus to seek her thus ravished, and adds exile as a pun- 
ishment, if he does not find her; being both affectionate and 
unnatural in the self-same act. The son of Agenor, having 
wandered over the whole world, as an exile flies from his 
country and the wrath of his father, for who is there that can 
discover the intrigues of Jupiter? A suppliant, he consults 
the oracle of Phoebus, and enquires in what land he must 
dwell. "A heifer," Phoebus says, " will meet thee in the lonely 
fields, one that has never borne the yoke, and free from the 
crooked plough. Under her guidance, go on thy way; and 
where she shall lie down on the grass, there cause a city to be 
built, and call it the Boeotian^ city." 

Scarcely had Cadmus well got down from the Castalian 
cave,' when he saw a heifer, without a keeper, slowly going 

^ He implies here that Boeotia received its name from the Greek 
word boiis, " an ox " or " cow." 

2 Castalius was a fountain at the foot of Mount Parnassus, and in 
the vicinity of Delphi. It was sacred to the Muses. 
XI— 26 

390 OVID 

alcng, bearing no mark of servitude upon her neck. He fol- 
lows, and pursues her steps with leisurely pace, and silently 
adores Phoebus, the adviser of his way. And now he had 
passed the fords of the Cephisus, and the fields of Panope, 
when the cow stood still, and raising her forehead, expansive 
with lofty horns, towards heaven, she made the air reverber- 
ate with her lowings. And so, looking back on her compan- 
ions that followed behind, she lay down, and reposed her side 
upon the tender grass. Cadmus returned thanks, and im- 
printed kisses upon the stranger land, and saluted the unknown 
mountains and fields. He was now going to offer sacrifice to 
Jupiter, and commanded his servants to go and fetch some 
water for the libation from the running springs. An ancient 
grove was standing there, as yet profaned by no axe. There 
was a cavern in the middle of it, thick covered with twigs and 
osiers, forming a low arch by the junction of the rocks; 
abounding with plenty of water. Hid in this cavern, there 
was a dragon sacred to Mars, adorned with crests and a 
golden colour. His eyes sparkle with fire, and all his body is 
puffed out with poison; three tongues, too, are brandished, 
and his teeth stand in a triple row. 


The companions of Cadmus, fetching zvater from the foun- 
tain of Mars, are devoured by the Dragon that guards it. 
Cadmus, on discovering their destruction, slays the monster, 
and, by the advice of Minerva, sozus the teeth, which im- 
mediately produce a crop of armed men. They forthivith 
quarrel among themselves, and kill each other, with the 
exception of five who assist Cadmus in building the city of 

After the men who came from the Tyrian nation had 
touched this grove with ill-fated steps, and the urn let down 
into the water made a splash; the azure dragon stretched 
forth his head from the deep cave, and uttered dreadful hiss- 
ings. The urns dropped from their hands ; and the blood left 
their bodies, and a sudden trembling seized their astonished 


limbs. He wreathes his scaly orbs in rolling spires, and with 
a spring becomes twisted into mighty folds; and uprearing 
himself from below the middle into the light air, he looks 
down upon all the grove, and is of as large size, as, if you 
were to look on him entire, the serpent which separates the 
two Bears. 

There is no delay; he seizes the Phoenicians, (whether 
they are resorting to their arms or to flight, or whether fear 
itself is preventing either step) ; some he kills with his sting, 
some with his long folds, some breathed upon by the venom 
of his baneful poison. 

The sun, now at its height, had made the shadows but 
small : the son of Agenor wonders what has detained his com- 
panions, and goes to seek his men. His garment was a skin 
torn from a lion; his weapon was a lance with shining steel, 
and a javelin ; and a courage superior to any weapon. When 
he entered the grove, and beheld the lifeless bodies, and the 
victorious enemy of immense size upon them, licking the hor- 
rid wounds with bloodstained tongue, he said, " Either I will 
be the avenger of your death, bodies of my faithful compan- 
ions, or I will be a sharer in it." Thus he said ; and with his 
right hand he raised a huge stone, and hurled the vast weight 
with a tremendous effort. And although high walls with 
lofty towers would have been shaken with the shock of it, yet 
the dragon remained without a wound ; and, being defended 
by his scales as though with a coat of mail, and the hardness 
of his black hide, he repelled the mighty stroke with his skin. 
But he did not overcome the javelin as well with the same 
hardness; which stood fast, fixed in the middle joint of his 
yielding spine, and sank with the entire point of steel into his 
entrails. Fierce with pain, he turned his head towards his 
back, and beheld his wounds, and bit the javelin fixed there. 
And after he had twisted it on every side with all his might, 
with difficulty he wrenched it from his back; yet the steel 
stuck fast in his bones. But then, when this newly inflicted 
wound has increased his wonted fury, his throat swelled with 
gorged veins, and white foam flowed around his pestilential 
jaws. The Earth, too, scraped with his scales, sounds again, 
and the livid steam that issues from his infernal mouth, in- 

392 OVID 

fects the tainted air. One while he enrolled in spires making 
enormous rings ; sometimes he unfolds himself straighter than 
a long beam. Now with a vast impulse, like a torrent swelled 
with rain, he is borne along, and bears down the obstructing 
forests with his breast. The son of Agenor gives way a little ; 
and by the spoil of the lion he sustains the shock, and with his 
lance extended before him, pushes back his mouth, as it ad- 
vances. The dragon rages, and vainly inflicts wounds on the 
hard steel, and fixes his teeth upon the point. And now the 
blood began to flow from his poisonous palate, and had dyed 
the green grass with its spray. But the wound was slight ; 
because he recoiled from the stroke, and drew back his 
wounded throat, and by shrinking prevented the blow from 
sinking deep, and did not suffer it to go very far. At length, 
the son of Agenor, still pursuing, pressed the spear lodged 
in his throat, until an oak stood in his way as he retreated, 
and his neck was pierced, together with the trunk. The tree 
was bent with the weight of the serpent, and groaned at hav- 
ing its trunk lashed with the extremity of its tail. 

While the conqueror was surveying the vast size of his 
vanquished enemy, a voice was suddenly heard (nor was it 
easy to understand whence it was, but heard it was). "Why, 
son of Agenor, art thou thus contemplating the dragon slain 
by thee? Even thou thyself shalt be seen in the form of a 
dragon." ^ He, for a long time in alarm, lost his colour to- 
gether with his presence of mind, and his hair stood on end 
with a chill of terror. Lo! Pallas, the favourer of the hero, 
descending through the upper region of the air, comes to him, 
and bids him sow the dragon's teeth under the earth turned 
up, as the seeds of a future people. He obeyed ; and when he 
had opened a furrow with the pressed plough, he scattered 
the teeth on the ground as ordered, the seed of a race of men. 
Afterwards ('tis beyond belief) the turf began to move, and 
first appeared a point of a spear out of the furrows, next the 

1 This came to pass when, having been expelled from his dominions 
by Zethus and Amphion, he retired to Illyria. and was there trans- 
formed into a serpent, a fate which was shared by his wife Her- 


coverings of heads nodding with painted cones ; ' then the 
shoulders and the breast, and the arms laden with weapons 
start up, and a crop of men armed with shields grows apace. 
So, when the curtains ^ are drawn in the joyful theatres, fig- 
ures are wont to rise, and first to show their countenances ; by 
degrees the rest; and being drawn out in a gradual continua- 
tion, the whole appear, and place their feet on the lowest edge 
of the stage. Alarmed with this new enemy, Cadmus is pre- 
paring to take arms, when one of the people that the earth 
had produced cries out, " Do not take up arms, nor engage 
thyself in civil war." And then, engaged hand to hand, he 
strikes one of his earth-born brothers with the cruel sword, 
while he himself falls by a dart sent from a distance. He, 
also, who had put him to death, lives no longer than the other, 
and breathes forth the air which he has so lately received. In 
a similar manner, too, the whole troop becomes maddened, 
and the brothers so newly sprung up, fall in fight with each 
other, by mutual wounds. And now the youths that had the 
space of so short an existence allotted them, beat with throb- 
bing breasts their blood-stained mother, five only remaining, 
of whom Echion was one. He, by the advice of Tritonia, 
threw his arms upon the ground, and both asked and gave the 
assurance of brotherly concord. 

The Sidonian stranger had these as associates in his task, 
when he built the city that was ordered by the oracle of 

^ The " conus " was the conical part of the helmet into which the 
crest of variegated feathers was inserted. 

2 The curtain of the Roman theatre was depressed when the play 
began, and drawn up when it was over. 

394 OVID 


Actceon, the grandson of Cadmus, fatigued with hunting and 
excessive heat, inadvertently ivanders to the cool valley of 
Gargaphie, the usual retreat of Diana, when tired with the 
same exercise. There, to his misfortune, he surprises the 
Goddess and her Nymphs while bathing, for zvhich she 
transforms him into a stag, and his ozvn hounds tear him to 

And now Thebes was standing; now, Cadmus, thou 
mightst seem happy in thy exile. Both Mars and Venus ^ had 
become thy father-in-law and mother-in-law ; add to this, issue 
by a wife so illustrious, so many sons and daughters, and 
grandchildren, dear pledges of love; these, too, now of a 
youthful age. But, forsooth, the last day of life must always 
be awaited by man, and no one ought to be pronounced happy 
before his death,^ and his last obsequies. Thy grandson, 
Cadmus, was the first occasion of sorrow to thee, among so 
much prosperity, the horns, too, not his own, placed upon his 
forehead, and you, O dogs, glutted with the blood of your 
master. But, if you diligently inquire into his case, you will 
find the fault of an accident, and not criminality in him; for 
what criminality did mistake embrace? 

There was a mountain stained with the blood of various 
wild beasts; and now the day had contracted the meridian 
shadow of things, and the sun was equally distant from each 
extremity of the heavens; when the Hyantian youth ^ thus 
addressed the partakers of his toils, as they wandered along the 
lonely haunts of the wild beasts, with gentle accent ; " Our 
nets are moistened, my friends, and our spears too, with the 
blood of wild beasts ; and the day has yielded sufficient sport ; 
when the next morn, borne upon her rosy chariot, shall bring 

1 The wife of Cadmus was Hermione, or Harmonia, the daughter 
of Mars and Venus. 

2 This was the famous remark of Solon to Croesus. 

3 Actaeon is thus called, as being a Boeotian. The Hyantes were the 
ancient or aboriginal inhabitants of Boeotia. 


back the light, let us seek again our proposed task. Now 
Phoebus is at the same distance from both lands, the Eastern 
and the Western, and is cleaving the fields with his heat. 
Cease your present toils, and take away the knotted nets." 
The men execute his orders, and cease their labours. There 
was a valley, thick set with pitch-trees and the sharp-pointed 
cypress; by name Gargaphie, sacred to the active Diana. In 
the extreme recess of this, there was a grotto in a grove, 
formed by no art; nature, by her ingenuity, had counterfeited 
art; for she had formed a natural arch, in the native pumice 
and the light sand-stones. A limpid fountain ran murmuring 
on the right hand with its little stream, having its spreading 
channels edged with a border of grass. Here, when wearied 
with hunting, the Goddess of the woods was wont to bathe 
her virgin limbs in the clear water. 

After she had entered there, she handed to one of the 
Nymphs, her armour-bearer, her javelin, her quiver, and her 
unstrung bow. Another Nymph put her arms under her 
mantle, when taken off; two removed the sandals from her 
feet. But Crocale, the daughter of Ismenus, more skilled 
than they, gathered her hair, which lay scattered over her 
neck, into a knot, although she herself was with her hair loose. 
Nephele, and Hyale, and Rhanis, fetch water, Psecas and 
Phyale do the same, and pour it from their large urns. And 
while the Titanian Goddess was there bathing in the wonted 
stream, behold ! the grandson of Cadmus, having deferred 
the remainder of his sport till next day, came into the grove, 
wandering through the unknown wood, with uncertain steps; 
thus did his fate direct him. 

Soon as he entered the grotto, dropping with its springs, 
the Nymphs, naked as they were, on seeing a man, smote their 
breasts, and filled all the woods with sudden shrieks, and 
gathering round Diana, covered her with their bodies. Yet 
the Goddess herself was higher than they, and was taller than 
them all by the neck. The colour that is wont to be in clouds, 
tinted by the rays of the sun when opposite, or that of the 
ruddy morning, was on the features of Diana, when seen 
without her garments. She, although surrounded with the 
crowd of her attendants, stood sideways, and turned her face 

396 OVID 

back ; and now did she wish that she had her arrows at hand ; 
and so she took up water, which she did have at hand, and 
threw it over the face of the man, and sprinkhng his hair with 
the avenging stream, she added these words, the presages of 
his future woe : " Now thou mayst tell, if tell thou canst, 
how that I was seen by thee without my garments." Threat- 
ening no more, she places on his sprinkled head the horns of 
a lively stag; she adds length to his neck, and sharpens the 
tops of his ears ; and she changes his hands into feet, and his 
arms into long legs, and covers his body with a spotted coat 
of hair ; fear, too, is added. The Autonoeian ^ hero took to 
flight, and wondered that he was so swift in his speed; but 
when he beheld his own horns in the wonted stream, he was 
about to say, "Ah, wretched me ! " when no voice followed. 
He groaned ; that was all his voice, and his tears trickled down 
a face not his own, but that of a stag. His former under- 
standing alone remained. What should he do? Should he 
return home, and to the royal abode? or should he lie hid in 
the woods? Fear hinders the one step, shame the other. 
While he was hesitating, the dogs espied him, and first Me- 
lampus, and the good-nosed Ichnobates gave the signal, in 
full cry. Ichnobates was a Gnossian dog; Melampus was of 
Spartan breed. Then the rest rush on, swifter than the rapid 
winds; Pamphagus, and Dorcseus, and Oribasus, all Arcadian 
dogs ; and able Nebrophonus, and with Laelaps, fierce Theron, 
and Pterelas, excelling in speed, Agre in her scent, and Hy- 
laeus, lately wounded by a fierce boar, and Nape, begotten by 
a wolf, and Poemenis, that had tended cattle, and Harpyia, 
followed by her two whelps, and the Sicyonian Ladon, hav- 
ing a slender girth ; Dromas, too, and Canace, Sticte and 
Tigris, and Alee, and Leucon, with snow-white hair, and 
Asbolus, with black, and the able-bodied Lacon, and Aello, 
good at running, and Thoiis, and the swift Lycisca, with her 
Cyprian brother, Harpalus, too, having his black face marked 
with white down the middle, and Melaneus, and Lachne, with 
a wire-haired body, and Labros, and Agriodos, bred of a 

^ Autonoe was the daughter of Cadmus and Hermione. or Harmonia, 
and the wife of Aristceus, by whom she was the mother of Acta?on. 


Dictsean sire, but of a Laconian dam, and Hylactor, with his 
shrill note ; and others which it were tedious to recount.^ 

This pack, in eagerness for their prey, are borne over rocks 
and cliffs, and crags difficult of approach, where the path is 
steep, and where there is no road. He flies along the routes 
by which he has so often pursued ; alas ! he is now flying from 
his own servants. Fain would he have cried, " I am Actaeon, 
recognize your own master." Words are wanting to his 
wishes; the air resounds with their barking. Melanchaetes 
was the first to make a wound on his back, Theridamas the 
next; Oresitrophus fastened upon his shoulder. These had 
gone out later, but their course was shortened by a near cut 
through the hill. While they hold their master, the rest of 
the pack come up, and fasten their teeth in his body. Now 
room is wanting for more wounds. He groans, and utters a 
noise, though not that of a man, still, such as a stag cannot 
make; and he fills the well-known mountains with dismal 
moans, and suppliant on his bended knees, and like one in 
entreaty, he turns round his silent looks as though they were 
his arms. 

But his companions, in their ignorance, urge on the eager 
pack with their usual cries, and seek Actseon with their eyes ; 
and cry out " Actgeon " aloud, as though he were absent. At 
his name he turns his head, as they complain that he is not 
there, and in his indolence, is not enjoying a sight of the sport 
afforded them. He wished, indeed, he had been away, but 
there he was; and he wished to see, not to feel as well, the 
cruel feats of his own dogs. They gather round him on all 
sides, and burying their jaws in his body, tear their master 
in pieces under the form of an imaginary stag. And the rage 
of the quiver-bearing Diana is said not to have been satiated, 
until his life was ended by many a wound. 

1 There were fifty in all in the pack. These names mean " Black- 
foot," " Trailer," " Glutton," " Quicksight," etc. 

398 OVID 


Jimo, incensed against Semele for her intrigue zvith Jupiter, 
takes the form of Beroe, the more easily to ensure her 
revenge. Having first infused in Semele suspicions of her 
lover, she then recommends her to adopt a certain method 
of proving his constancy. Semele, thus deceived, obtains 
a reluctant promise from Jupiter, to make his next visit to 
her in the splendour and majesty in which he usually ap- 
proached his wife. 

They speak in various ways of this matter. To some, the 
Goddess seems more severe than is proper; others praise 
her, and call her deserving of her state of strict virginity: 
both sides find their reasons. The wife of Jupiter alone does 
not so much declare whether she blames or whether she ap- 
proves, as she rejoices at the calamity of a family sprung 
from Agenor, and transfers the hatred that she had conceived 
from the Tyrian mistress to the partners of her race. Lo! a 
fresh occasion is now added to the former one ; and she 
grieves that Semele is pregnant from the seed of great Jupiter. 
She then lets loose her tongue to abuse. 

"And what good have I done by railing so often?" said 
she. " She herself must be attacked by me. If I am prop- 
erly called the supreme Juno, I will destroy her; if it be- 
comes me to hold the sparkling sceptre in my right hand; if I 
am the queen, and both sister and wife of Jupiter. The 
sister I am, no doubt. But I suppose she is content with a 
stolen embrace, and the injury to my bed is but trifling. She 
is now pregnant ; that alone was wanting ; and she bears the 
evidence of his crime in her swelling womb, and wishes to 
be made a mother by Jupiter, a thing which hardly fell to 
my lot alone. So great is her confidence in her beauty. I 
will take care he shall deceive her ; and may I be no daughter 
of Saturn, if she does not descend to the Stygian waves, sunk 
there by her own dear Jupiter." 

Upon this she rises from her throne, and, hidden in a cloud 
of fiery hue, she approaches the threshold of Semele. Nor 


did she remove the clouds before she counterfeited an old 
woman, and planted grey hair on her temples; and furrowed 
her skin with wrinkles, and moved her bending limbs with 
palsied step, and made her voice that of an old woman. She 
became Beroe herself, the Epidaurian nurse of Semele. 
When therefore, upon engaging in discourse with her, and 
after long talking, they came to the name of Jupiter, she 
sighed, and said, " I only wish it may be Jupiter ; yet I am apt 
to fear every thing. Many a one under the name of a God 
has invaded a chaste bed. Nor yet is it enough that he is 
Jupiter; let him, if, indeed, he is the real one, give some pledge 
of his affection; and beg of him to bestow his caresses on 
thee, just in the greatness and form in which he is received 
by the stately Juno; and let him first assume his ensigns of 
royalty." With such words did Juno tutor the unsuspecting 
daughter of Cadmus. She requested of Jupiter a favour, 
without naming it. To her the God said, " Make thy choice, 
thou shalt suffer no denial ; and that thou mayst believe it the 
more, let the majesty of the Stygian stream bear witness. 
He is the dread and the God of the Gods." 

Overjoyed at what was her misfortune, and too easily 
prevailing, as now about to perish by the complaisance of her 
lover, Semele said, " Present thyself to me, just such as the 
daughter of Saturn is wont to embrace thee, when ye honour 
the ties of Venus." The God wished to shut her mouth as 
she spoke, but the hasty words had now escaped into air. He 
groaned ; for neither was it now possible for her not to have 
wished, nor for him not to have sworn. Therefore, in ex- 
treme sadness, he mounted the lofty skies, and with his nod 
drew along the attendant clouds; to which he added showers 
and lightnings mingled with winds, and thunders, and the 
inevitable thunderbolt. 

400 OVID 


Semele is visited by Jupiter, according to the promise she had 
obliged him to make; but, being unable to support the 
effulgence of his lightning, she is burnt to ashes in his 
presence. Bacchus, with zvhom she is pregnant, is pre- 
served; and Tiresias decided the dispute between Jupiter 
and Juno, concerning the sexes. 

And yet, as much as possible, he tries to mitigate his 
powers. Nor is he now armed with those flames with which 
he had overthrown the hundred-handed Typhoeus; in those, 
there is too much fury. There is another thunder, less bane- 
ful, to which the right hand of the Cyclops gave less ferocity 
and flames, and less anger. The Gods above call this second- 
rate thunder; it he assumes, and he enters the house of 
Agenor. Her mortal body could not endure the sethereal 
shock, and she was burned amid her nuptial presents. The 
infant, as yet unformed, is taken out of the womb of his 
mother, and prematurely (if we believe it) is inserted in the 
thigh of the father, and completes the time that he should 
have spent in the womb. His aunt, Ino, nurses him privately 
in his early cradle. After that, the Nyseian Nymphs^ con- 
ceal him, entrusted to them, in their caves, and give him the 
nourishment of milk. 

And while these things are transacted on earth by the 
law of destiny, and the cradle of Bacchus, twice born, is 
secured ; they tell that Jupiter, by chance, well drenched with 
nectar, laid aside all weighty cares, and engaged in some free 
jokes with Juno, in her idle moments, apd said: "Decidedly 
the pleasure of you, females, is greater than that which falls 
to the lot of us males." She denied it. It was agreed be- 
tween them, to ask what was the opinion of the experienced 

* Nysa was the name of a city and mountain of Arabia, or India. 
The tradition was, that there the Nyseian Nymphs, whose names 
were Cysseis, Nysa, Erato, Eryphia, Bromia, and Polyhymnia, 
brought up Bacchus. From the name " Nysa," Bacchus received, in 
part, his Greek name " Dionysus." 


Tiresias. To him both pleasures were well known. For he 
had separated with a blow of his staff two bodies of large 
serpents, as they were coupling in a green wood; and (pass- 
ing strange) become a woman from a man, he had spent seven 
autumns. In the eighth, he again saw the same serpents, and 
said, "If the power of a stroke given you is so great as to 
change the condition of the giver into the opposite one, I will 
now strike you again." Having struck the same snakes, his 
former sex returned, and his original shape came again. He, 
therefore, being chosen as umpire in this sportive contest, 
confirmed the words of Jove. The daughter of Saturn is said 
to have grieved more than was fit, and not in proportion to 
the subject; and she condemned the eyes of the umpire to 
eternal darkness. 

But the omnipotent father ( for it is not allowed any God 
to cancel the acts of another Deity) gave him the knowledge 
of things to come, in recompense for his loss of sight, and 
alleviated his punishment by this honour. 


Echo, having often amused Juno with her stories, to give time 
to Jupiter's mistresses to make their escape, the Goddess, at 
last, punishes her for the deception. She is slighted and 
despised by Narcissus, with whom she falls in love. 

He, much celebrated by fame throughout the cities of 
Aonia,^ gave unerring answers to the people consulting him. 
The azure Liriope" was the first to make essay and experi- 
ment of his infallible voice; whom once Cephisus encircled in 
his winding stream, and offered violence to, when enclosed by 
his w^aters. The most beauteous Nymph produced an infant 

^ Aonia was a mountainous district of Boeotia, so called from Aon, 
the son of Neptune, who reigned there. The name is often used to 
signify the whole of Boeotia. 

2 The daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and the mother of the youth 
Narcissus, by the river Cephisus. Her name is derived from the 
Greek Icirion, " a Hly." 

402 OVID 

from her teeming womb, which even then might have been 
beloved, and she called him Narcissus/ Being consulted 
concering him, whether he was destined to see the distant 
season of mature old age; the prophet, expounding destiny, 
said, "If he never recognises himself." Long did the words 
of the soothsayer appear frivolous; but the event, the thing 
itself, the manner of his death, and the novel nature of his 
frenzy, confirmed it. 

And now the son of Cephisus had added one to three times 
five years, and he might seem to be a boy and a young man 
as well. Many a youth, and many a damsel, courted him; 
but there was so stubborn a pride in his youthful beauty, that 
no youths, no damsels made any impression on him. The 
noisy Nymph, who has neither learned to hold her tongue 
after another speaking, nor to speak first herself, resound- 
ing Echo, espied him, as he was driving the timid stags into 
his nets. Echo was then a body, not a voice; and yet the 
babbler had no other use of her speech than she now has, to 
be able to repeat the last words out of many. Juno had done 
this; because when often she might have been able to detect 
the Nymphs in the mountains in the embrace of her husband, 
Jupiter, she purposely used to detain the Goddess with a 
long story, until the Nymphs had escaped. After the 
daughter of Saturn perceived this, she said, " But small exer- 
cise of this tongue, with which I have been deluded, shall be 
allowed thee, and a very short use of thy voice." And she 
confirmed her threats by the event. Still, in the end of one's 
speaking she redoubles the voice, and returns the words she 
hears. When, therefore, she beheld Narcissus wandering 
through the pathless forests, and fell in love with him, she 
stealthily followed his steps ; and the more she followed him, 
with the nearer flame did she burn. In no other manner than 
as when the native sulphur, spread around the tops of torches, 
catches the flame applied to it. Ah! how often did she desire 
to accost him in soft accents, and to employ soft entreaties! 

1 This name is from the Greek word narkain, " to fade away," which 
was characteristic of the youth's career, and of the duration of the 


Nature resists, and suffers her not to begin ; but what Nature 
does permit, that she is ready for; to await his voice, to 
which to return her own words. 

By chance, the youth, being separated from the trusty com- 
pany of his attendants, cries out, "Is there any one here?" 
and Echo answers " Here ! " He is amazed ; and when he 
has cast his eyes on every side, he cries out with a loud voice, 
" Come ! " Whereon she calls the youth who calls. He looks 
back ; and again, as no one comes, he says, " Why dost thou 
avoid me?" and just as many words as he spoke, he receives. 
He persists; and being deceived by the imitation of an alter- 
nate voice, he says, " Let us come together here ; " and Echo, 
that could never more willingly answer any sound whatever, 
replies, " Let us come together here ! " and she follows up her 
own words, and rushing from the woods, is going to throw 
her arms around the neck she has so longed for. He flies; 
and as he flies, he exclaims, " Remove thy hands from thus 
embracing me ; I will die first, before thou shalt have the en- 
joyment of me." She answers nothing but "Have the en- 
joyment of me." Thus rejected, she lies hid in the woods, 
and hides her blushing face with green leaves, and from that 
time lives in lonely caves; but yet her love remains, and in- 
creases from the mortification of her refusal. Watchful 
cares waste away her miserable body; leanness shrivels her 
skin, and all the juices of her body fly off in air. Her voice 
and her bones alone are left. 

Her voice still continues, but they say that her bones re- 
ceived the form of stones. Since then, she lies concealed in 
the woods, and is never seen on the mountains; but is heard 
in all of them. It is her voice alone which remains alive in 


Narcissus falls in love with his ozvn shadow, which he sees 
in a fountain; and, pining to death, the Gods change him 
into a flower, which still bears his name. 

Thus had he deceived her, thus, too, other Nymphs that 
sprung from the water or the mountains, thus the throng of 

404 OVID 

youths before them. Some one, therefore, who had been 
despised by him, hfting up his hands towards heaven said, 
" Thus, though he should love, let him not enjoy what he 
loves ! " Rhamnusia ^ assented ' to a prayer so reasonable. 
There was a clear spring, like silver, with its unsullied waters, 
which neither shepherds, nor she-goats feeding on the moun- 
tains, nor any other cattle, had touched; which neither bird 
nor wild beast had disturbed, nor bough falling from a tree. 
There was grass around it, which the neighbouring water 
nourished, and a wood, that suffered the stream to become 
warm with no rays of the sun. Here the youth, fatigued both 
with the labour of hunting and the heat, lay down, attracted 
by the appearance of the spot, and the spring; and, while he 
was endeavouring to quench his thirst, another thirst grew 
upon him. 

While he is drinking, being attracted with the reflection 
of his own form, seen in the water, he falls in love with a 
thing that has no substance ; and he thinks that to be a body, 
which is but a shadow. He is astonished at himself, and re- 
mains unmoved with the same countenance, like a statue 
formed of Parian marble. Lying on the ground, he gazes on 
his eyes like two stars, and fingers worthy of Bacchus, and 
hair worthy of Apollo, and his youthful cheeks and ivory 
neck, and the comeliness of his mouth, and his blushing com- 
plexion mingled with the whiteness of snow; and everything 
he admires, for which he himself is worthy to be admired. 
In his ignorance, he covets himself; and he that approves, is 
himself the thing approved. While he pursues he is pursued, 
and at the same moment he inflames and burns. How often 
does he give vain kisses to the deceitful spring; how often 
does he thrust his arms, catching at the neck he sees, into the 

^ Nemesis, the Goddess of Retribution, and the avenger of crime, 
was the daughter of Jupiter. She had a famous temple at Rham- 
nus, one of the " pagi," or boroughs of Athens. Her statue was 
there carved by Phidias out of the marble which the Persians brought 
into Greece for the purpose of making a statue of Victory out of it, 
and which was thus appropriately devoted to the Goddess of Retri- 
bution. This statue wore a crown, and had wings, and holding a 
spear of ash in the right hand, it was seated on a stag. 


middle of the water, and yet he does not catch himself in 
them. He knows not what he sees, but what he sees, by it 
is he inflamed; and the same mistake that deceives his eyes, 
provokes them. Why, credulous youth, dost thou vainly 
catch at the flying image? What thou art seeking is no- 
where; what thou art in love with, turn but away and thou 
shalt lose it; what thou seest, the same is but the shadow of 
a reflected form: it has nothing of its own. It comes and 
stays with thee; with thee it will depart, if thou canst but 
depart thence. 

No regard for food, no regard for repose, can draw him 
away thence; but, lying along upon the overshadowed grass, 
he gazes upon the fallacious image with unsatiated eyes, and 
by his own sight he himself is undone. Raising himself a 
little while, extending his arms to the woods that stand 
around him, he says, " Was ever, O, ye woods ! any one more 
fatally in love? For this ye know, and have been a con- 
venient shelter for many a one. And do you remember any 
one, who ever thus pined away, during so long a time, though 
so many ages of your life has been spent? It both pleases 
me, and I see it; but what I see, and what pleases me, yet I 
cannot obtain ; so great a mistake possesses one in love ; and 
to make me grieve the more, neither a vast sea separates us, 
nor a long way, nor mountains, nor a city with its gates 
closed : we are kept asunder by a little water. He himself 
wishes to be embraced; for as often as I extend my lips to the 
limpid stream, so often does he struggle towards me with his 
face held up; you would think he might be touched. It is a 
very little that stands in the way of lovers. Whoever thou 
art, come up hither. Why, dear boy, the choice one, dost 
thou deceive me? or whither dost thou retire, when pursued? 
Surely, neither my form nor my age is such as thou shouldst 
shun ; the Nymphs, too, have courted me. Thou encouragest 
I know not what hopes in me with that friendly look, and 
when I extend my arms to thee, thou willingly extendest 
thine; w^hen I smile, thou smilest in return; often too, have 
I observed thy tears, when I was weeping; my signs, too, 
thou returnest by thy nods, and, as I guess by the motion of 
thy beauteous mouth, thou returnest words that come not to 

XI— 27 

406 OVID 

my ears. In thee 'tis I, I now perceive; nor does my form 
deceive me. I burn with the love of myself, and both raise 
the flames and endure them. What shall I do? Should I be 
entreated, or should I entreat? What, then, shall I entreat? 
What I desire is in my power; plenty has made me poor. 
Oh! would that I could depart from my own body! a new 
wish, indeed, in a lover; I could wish that what I am in love 
with was away. And now grief is taking away my strength, 
and no long period of my life remains; and in my early days 
am I cut off: nor is death grievous to me, now about to get 
rid of my sorrows by death. I wish that he who is beloved 
could enjoy a longer life. Now we two, of one mind, shall 
die in the extinction of one life." 

Thus he said, and, with his mind but ill at ease, he re- 
turned to the same reflection, and disturbed the water with 
his tears; and the form was rendered defaced by the moving 
of the stream; when he saw it beginning to disappear, he cried 
aloud, " Whither dost thou fly ? Stay, I beseech thee ! and do 
not in thy cruelty abandon thy lover; let it be allowed me to 
behold that which I may not touch, and to give nourishment 
to my wretched frenzy." And, while he was grieving, he 
tore his garment from the upper border, and beat his naked 
breast with his palms, white as marble. His breast, when 
struck, received a little redness, no otherwise than as apples 
are wont, which are partly white and partly red ; or as a grape, 
not yet ripe, in the parti-coloured clusters, is wont to assume 
a purple tint. Soon as he beheld this again in the water, 
when clear, he could not endure it any longer ; but, as yellow 
wax with the fire, or the hoar frost of the morning, is wont to 
waste away with the warmth of the sun, so he, consumed 
by love, pined away, and wasted by degrees with a hidden 
flame. And now, no longer was his complexion of white 
mixed with red; neither his vigour nor his strength, nor the 
points which had charmed when seen so lately, nor even his 
body, which formerly Echo had been in love with, now re- 
mained. Yet, when she saw these things, although angry, 
and mindful of his usage of her, she was grieved, and, as 
often as the unhappy youth said, " Alas ! " she repeated, 
" Alas ! " with re-echoing voice ; and when he struck his 


arms with his hands, she, too, returned the like sound of a 

His last accents, as he looked into the water, as usual, 
were these : *' Ah, youth, beloved in vain ! " and the spot 
returned just as many words; and after he had said, "Fare- 
well ! " Echo too, said, " Farewell ! " He laid down his 
wearied head upon the green grass, when night closed the eyes 
that admired the beauty of their master; and even then, after 
he had been received into the infernal abodes, he used to look 
at himself in the Stygian waters. His Naiad sisters lamented 
him, and laid their hair, cut off, over their brother; the 
Dryads, too, lamented him, and Echo resounded to their 
lamentations. And now they were preparing the funeral pile, 
and the shaken torches, and the bier. The body was nowliere 
to be found. Instead of his body, they found a yellow flower, 
with white leaves encompassing it in the middle. 


Pcntheus ridicules the predictions of Tiresias; and not only 
forbids his people to zvorship Bacchus, who had just 
entered Greece in triumph, but even commands them to 
capture him, and to bring him into his presence. Under 
the form of Acoctcs, one of his companions, Bacchus suffers 
that indignity, and relates to Penthcus the zvondcrs zvhich 
the God had wrought. The recital enrages Pcntheus still 
more, who thereupon goes to Mount Cithccron, to disturb 
the orgies then celebrating there; on which his own mother 
and the other Bacchantes tear him to pieces. 

This thing, when known, brought deserved fame to the 
prophet through the cities of Achaia ; ^ and great was the 
reputation of the soothsayer. Yet Pcntheus, the son of 
Echion, a contemner of the Gods above, alone, of all men, 
despises him, and derides the predicting words of the old man, 
and upbraids him with his darkened state, and the misfortune 

^ Achaia was properly the name of a part of Peloponnesus, on the 
gulf of Corinth ; but the name is very frequently applied to the whole 
of Greece. 

408 OVID 

of having lost his sight. He, shaking his temples, white with 
hoary hair, says: "How fortunate wouldst thou be, if thou 
as well couldst become deprived of this light, that thou 
mightst not behold the rites of Bacchus. For soon the day 
will come, and even now I predict that it is not far off, when 
the new God Liber, the son of Semele, shall come hither. 
Unless thou shalt vouchsafe him the honour of a temple, thou 
shalt be scattered, torn in pieces, in a thousand places, and 
with thy blood thou shalt pollute both the woods, and thy 
mother and the sisters of thy mother. These things will come 
to pass; for thou wilt not vouchsafe honour to the Divinity; 
and thou wilt complain that under this darkness I have seen 
too much." 

The son of Echion drives him away as he says such things 
as these. Confirmation follows his words, and the predic- 
tions of the prophet are fulfilled. Liber comes, and the fields 
resound with festive bowlings. The crowd runs out; both 
matrons and new-married women mixed with the men, both 
high and low, are borne along to the celebration of rites till 
then unknown. " What madness," says Pentheus, " has con- 
founded your minds, O ye warlike men,^ descendants of the 
Dragon? Can brass knocked against brass prevail so much 
with you? And the pipe with the bending horn, and these 
magical delusions? And shall the yells of women, and mad- 
ness produced by wine, and troops of effeminate wretches, 
and empty tambourines prevail over you, whom neither the 
warrior's sword nor the trumpet could affright, nor troops 
with weapons prepared for fight? Am I to wonder at you, 
old men, who, carried over distant seas, have fixed in these 
abodes a new Tyre, and your banished household Gods, but 
who now allow them to be taken without a struggle? Or 
you, of more vigorous age, and nearer to my own, ye youths ; 
whom it was befitting to be brandishing arms, and not the 
thyrsus ^ and to be covered with helmets, not green leaves ? 

^ The Thebans were sprung from the teeth of the dragon, who was 
said to be a son of Mars. 

- A long staff, carried by Bacchus, and by the Satyrs and Baccha- 
nalians engaged in the worship of the God of the grape. 


Do be mindful, I entreat you, of Avhat race you are sprung, 
and assume the courage of that dragon, who though but one, 
destroyed many. He died for his springs and his stream; 
but do you conquer for your own fame. He put the vahant 
to death ; do you expel the feeble foe, and regain your coun- 
try's honour. If the fates forbid Thebes to stand long, I 
wish that engines of war ^ and men should demolish the walls, 
and that fire and sword should resound. Then should we be 
wretched without any fault of our own, and our fate were to 
be lamented, but not concealed, and our tears would be free 
from shame. But now Thebes will be taken by an unarmed 
boy, whom neither wars delight, nor weapons, nor the em- 
ployment of horses, but hair wet with myrrh, and effeminate 
chaplets, and purple, and gold interwoven with embroidered 
garments; whom I, indeed, (do you only stand aside) will 
presently compel to own that his father is assumed, and that 
his sacred rites are fictitious. Has Acrisius " courage enough 
to despise the vain Deity, and to shut the gates of Argos 
against his approach ; and shall this stranger affright Pen- 
theus with all Thebes? Go quickly, (this order he gives to 
his servants,) go, and bring hither in chains the ringleader. 
Let there be no slothful delay in executing my commands." 

His grandfather, Cadmus, Athamas, and the rest of the 
company of his friends rebuke him with expostulations, and 
in vain strive to restrain him. By their admonition he be- 
comes more violent, and by being curbed his fury is irritated, 
and is on the increase, and the very restraint did him injury. 
So have I beheld a torrent, where nothing obstructed it in its 
course, run gently and with moderate noise; but wherever 
beams and stones in its way withheld it, it ran foaming and 

^ The larger engines of destruction used in ancient warfare. The 
" balista " was used to impel stones ; the " catapulta," darts and 
arrows. In sieges, the " Aries," or " battering ram," which received 
its name from having an iron head resembling that of a ram, was 
employed in destroying the lower part of the wall, while the " ba- 
lista " was overthrowing the battlements, and the '* catapulta " was 
employed to shoot any of the besieged who appeared between them. 
2 A king of Argos, who refused, and probably with justice, to admit 
Bacchus or his rites within the gates of his city. 

410 OVID 

raging, and more violent from its obstruction. Behold! the 
servants return, all stained with blood ; and when their master 
enquires where Bacchus is, they deny that they have seen 
Bacchus. " But this one," say they, " we have taken, who 
was his attendant and minister in his sacred rites." And 
then they deliver one, who, from the Etrurian nation, had 
followed the sacred rites of the Deity, with his hands bound 
behind his back, 

Pentheus looks at him with eyes that anger has made ter- 
rible, and although he can scarcely defer the time of his 
punishment, he says, " O wretch, doomed to destruction, and 
about, by thy death, to set an example to others, tell me thy 
name, and the name of thy parents, and thy country, and why 
thou dost attend the sacred rites of a new fashion." He, 
void of fear, says, "My name is Acoetes; Mseonia^ is my 
country; my parents were of humble station. My father left 
me no fields for the hardy oxen to till, no wool-bearing flocks, 
nor any herds. He himself was but poor, and he was wont 
w4th line, and hooks, to deceive the leaping fishes, and to take 
them with the rod. His trade was his only possession. 
When he gave that calling over to me, he said, ' Receive, as 
the successor and heir of my employment, those riches which 
I possess ' ; and at his death he left me nothing but the 
streams. This one thing alone can I call my patrimony. 
But soon, that I might not always be confined to the same 
rocks, I learned with a steadying right hand to guide the 
helm of the ship, and I made observation with my eyes of the 
showery Constellation of the Olenian she-goat," and Taygete,^ 

^ Colonists were said to have proceeded from Lydia, or Maeonia, to 
the coasts of Etruria. Bacchus assumes the name of Acoetes, from 
the Greek akoitcs, "sleepless"; which ought to be the characteristic 
of the careful pilot. 

2 Amalthea, the goat that suckled Jupiter, is called Olenian, either 
because she was reared in Olenus, a city of Boeotia, or because she 
was placed as a Constellation between the arms, olcnai, of the Con- 
stellation Auriga, or the Charioteer. The rising and setting of this 
Constellation were supposed to produce showers. 
^ One of the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas, who were placed 
among the Constellations. 


and the Hyades/ and the Bear, and the quarters of the winds, 
and the harbours fit for ships. By chance, as I was making 
for Delos, I touched at the coast of the land of Dia,^ and 
came up to the shore by plying the oars on the right side; 
and I gave a nimble leap, and lighted upon the wet sand. 
When the night was past, and dawn first began to grow 
red, I arose and ordered my men to take in fresh water, and I 
pointed out the way which led to the stream. I myself, from 
a lofty eminence, looked around to see what the breeze prom- 
ised me; and then I called my companions, and returned 
to the vessel. 'Lo! we are here,' says Opheltes, my chief 
mate; and having found, as he thought, a prize in the lonely 
fields, he was leading along the shore, a body with all the 
beauty of a girl. He, heavy with wine and sleep, seemed to 
stagger, and to follow with difficulty. I examined his dress, 
his looks, and his gait, and I saw nothing there which could 
be taken to be mortal. I both was sensible of it, and I said 
to my companions, ' I am in doubt what Deity is in that 
body ; but in that body a Deity there is. Whoever thou art, 
O be propitious and assist our toils; and pardon these as 
well.' * Cease praying for us,' said Dictys, than whom there 
were not another more nimble at climbing to the main-top- 
yards, and at sliding down by catching hold of a rope. This 
Libys, this the yellow-haired Melanthus, the guardian of the 
prow, and this Alcimedon approved of ; and Epopeus as well, 
the cheerer of their spirits, who by his voice gave both rest 
and time to the oars; and so did all the rest; so blind is the 
.^reed for booty. * However,' I said, * I will not allow this 
Jhip to be damaged by this sacred freight. Here I have the 
greatest share of right,' and I opposed them at the entrance. 
"Lycabas, the boldest of all the number, was enraged, who, 
expelled from a city of Etruria was suffering exile as the 
punishment for a dreadul murder. He, while I was resist- 
ing, seized hold of my throat with his youthful fist, and shak- 

^ The Dodonides, or nurses of Bacchus, whom Jupiter, as a mark 
of his favour, placed in the number of the Constellations. Their 
name is derived from huein, " to rain." 
^ This was another name of the Isle of Naxos. 

412 OVID 

ing me, had thrown me overboard into the sea, if I had not, 
although stunned, held fast by grasping a rope. The impious 
crew approved of the deed. Then at last Bacchus (for Bac- 
chus it was), as though his sleep had been broken by the noise, 
and his sense was returning into his breast after much wine, 
said: 'What are you doing? What is this noise ? Tell me, 
sailors, by what means have I come hither ? Whither do you 
intend to carry me ? ' ' Lay aside thy fears,' said Proreus, 
*and tell us what port thou wouldst wish to reach. Thou 
shalt stop at the land that thou desirest.' ' Direct your course 
then to Naxos,' says Liber, * that is my home ; it shall prove a 
hospitable land for you.' 

" In their deceit they swore by the ocean and by all the 
Deities, that so it should be; and bade me give sail to the 
painted ship. Naxos was to our right; and as I was accord- 
ingly setting sail for the right hand, every one said for 
himself, 'What art thou about, madman? What insanity 
possesses thee, Acoetes? Stand away to the left.' The 
greater part signified their meaning to me by signs; some 
whispered in my ear what they wanted. I was at a loss, and 
I said, ' Let some one else take the helm ; ' and I withdrew 
myself from the execution both of their wickedness, and of 
my own calling. I was reviled by them all, and the w^hole 
crew muttered reproaches against me. yEthalion, among 
them, says, 'As if, forsooth, all our safety is centred in 
thee,' and he himself comes up, and takes my duty ; leaving 
Naxos, he steers a different course. Then the God, mocking 
them as if he had at last but that moment discovered their 
knavery, looks down upon the sea from the crooked stern ; 
and, like one weeping, he says : * These are not the shores, 
sailors, that you have promised me; this is not the land de- 
sired by me. By what act have I deserved this treatment? 
What honour is it to you, if you that are young men, deceive 
a mere boy? if you that are many, deceive me, who am but 
one?' I had been weeping for some time. The impious 
gang laughed at my tears, and beat the sea with hastening 
oars. Now by himself do I swear to thee (and no God is 
there more powerful than he), that I am relating things to 
thee as true, as they are beyond all belief. The ship stood 


still upon the ocean, no otherwise than if it was occupying a 
dry dock. They, wondering at it, persisted in the plying 
of their oars; they unfurled their sails, and endeavoured to 
speed onward with this two-fold aid. Ivy impeded the oars, 
and twined around them in encircling wreaths, and clung to 
the sails with heavy clusters of berries. He himself, having 
his head encircled with bunches of grapes, brandished a lance 
covered with vine leaves. Around him, tigers and visionary 
forms of lynxes, and savage bodies of spotted panthers, were 

" The men leaped overboard, whether it was madness or 
fear that caused this ; and first of all, Medon began to grow 
black with fins, with a flattened body, and to bend in the curva- 
ture of the back-bone. To him Lycabas said, * Into what 
prodigy art thou changing ? ' and, as he spoke, the opening 
of his mouth was wide, his nose became crooked, and his 
hardened skin received scales upon it. But Libys, while he 
was attempting to urge on the resisting oars, saw his hands 
shrink into a small compass, and now to be hands no longer, 
and that now, in fact, they may be pronounced fins. An- 
other, desirous to extend his arms to the twisting ropes, 
had no arms, and becoming crooked, with a body deprived of 
limbs, he leaped into the waves; the end of his tail was 
hooked, just as the horns of the half-moon are curved. 
They flounce about on every side, and bedew the ship with 
plenteous spray, and again they emerge, and once more they 
return beneath the waves. They sport with all the appear- 
ance of a dance, and toss their sportive bodies, and blow forth 
the sea, received within their wide nostrils. Of twenty the 
moment before (for so many did that ship carry), I was the 
only one remaining. The God encouraged me, frightened and 
chilled with my body all trembling, and scarcely myself, say- 
ing, * Shake off thy fear, and make for Dia.' Arriving 
there, I attended upon the sacred rites of Bacchus, at the 
kindled altars." 

" We have lent ear to a long story," says Pentheus, " that 
our anger might consume its strength in its tediousness. 
Servants! drag him headlong, and send to Stygian night his 
body, racked with dreadful tortures." At once the Etrurian 

414 OVID 

Acoetes, dragged away, is shut up in a strong prison ; and 
while the cruel instruments of the death that is ordered, and 
the iron and the fire are being made ready, the report is that 
the doors opened of their own accord, and that the chains, 
of their own accord, slipped from off his arms, no one loosen- 
ing them. 

The son of Echion persists ; and now he does not command 
others to go, but goes himself to where Cithseron,^ chosen for 
the celebration of these sacred rites, was resounding with 
singing, and the shrill voices of the votaries of Bacchus. 
Just as the high-mettled steed neighs, when the warlike trum- 
peter gives the alarm with the sounding brass, and conceives 
a desire for battle, so did the sky, struck with the long-drawn 
bowlings, excite Pentheus, and his wrath was rekindled on 
hearing the clamour. There was, about the middle of the 
mountain, the woods skirting its extremity, a plain free from 
trees, and visible on every side. Here his mother was the 
first to see him looking on the sacred rites with profane eyes ; 
she first was moved by a frantic impulse, and she first wounded 
her son, Pentheus, by hurling her thyrsus, and cried out, 
" Ho ! come, my two sisters ; ^ that boar which, of enormous 
size, is roaming amid our fields, that boar I must strike." 
All the raging multitude rushes upon him alone; all collect 
together, and all follow him, now trembling, now uttering 
words less atrocious than before, now blaming himself, now 
confessing that he has offended. 

However, on being w^ounded, he says, " Give me thy aid, 
Autonoe, my aunt ; let the ghost of Actseon ^ influence thy 
feelings." She knows not what Actseon means, and tears 
away his right hand as he is praying; the other is dragged 
off by the violence of Ino. The wretched man has now no 

^ A mountain of Boeotia, famous for the orgies of Bacchus there 


2 These were Ino and Autonoe. 

^ He appeals to Autonoe, the mother of Actrcon, to remember the 

sad fate of her own son, and to show him some mercy; but in 

vain: for drunkenness had taken away both her reason and her 



arms to extend to his motlier; but shewing his maimed body, 
with the Hmbs torn off, he says, " Look at this, my mother ! " 
At the sight Agave howls aloud, and tosses her neck, and 
shakes her locks in the air; and seizing his head, torn off, 
with her blood-stained fingers, she cries out, " Ho ! my com- 
panions, this victory is our work ! " 

The wind does not more speedily bear off, from a lofty 
tree, the leaves nipped by the cold autumn, and now adhering 
with difficulty, than were the limbs of the man, torn asunder 
by their accursed hands. Admonished by such examples, 
the Ismenian matrons frequent the new worship, and offer 
frankincense, and reverence the sacred altars. 



The daughters of Minyas, instead of celebrating the festival 
of Bacchus, apply themselves to other pursuits during the 
ceremonies; and among several narratives zvhich they relate 
to pass azvay the time, they divert themselves with the story 
of the adventures of Py ramus and Thisbe. These lovers 
having made an appointment to meet zvithonf the walls of 
Babylon, Thisbe arrives -first; but at the sight of a lioness, 
she runs to hide herself in a cave, and in her alarm, drops 
her veil. Pyramus, arriving soon after, -finds the veil of his 
mistress stained with blood; and believing her to be dead, 
kills himself zvith his ozvn sword. Thisbe returns from 
the cave; and finding Pyramus zveltcring in his blood, she 
plunges the same fatal weapon into her ozvn breast. 

But Alcithoe, the daughter of Minyas, does not think 
that the rites of the God ought to be received ; but still, in her 
rashness, denies that Bacchus is the progeny of Jupiter; and 
she has her sisters ^ as partners in her impiety. 

^ The names of the sisters of Alcithoe were Aristippe and Leucippe. 
^lian says that the truth of the case was, that they were decent 
women, fond of their husbands and families, who preferred stay- 

416 OVID 

The priest had ordered both mistresses and maids, laying 
aside their employments, to have their breasts covered with 
skins, and to loosen the fillets of their hair, and to put gar- 
lands on their locks, and to take the verdant thyrsi in their 
hands; and had prophesied that severe would be the resent- 
ment of the Deity, if affronted. Both matrons and new- 
married women obey, and lay aside their w-ebs and work- 
baskets, and their tasks unfinished ; and offer frankincense, 
and invoke both Bacchus and Bromius, and Lyseus, and the 
son of the Flames, and the Twice-Born, and the only one 
that had two mothers. To these is added the name of Nyseus, 
and the unshorn Thyoneus, and with Lenseus, the planter of 
the genial grape, and Nyctelius, and father Eleleus, and 
lacchus, and Evan, and a great many other names, which thou. 
Liber, hast besides, throughout the nations of Greece.^ For 
thine is youth everlasting ; thou art a boy to all time, thou art 
beheld as the most beauteous of all in high heaven; thou 
hast the features of a virgin, when thou standest without thy 
horns. By thee the East was conquered, as far as w^here 
swarthy India is bounded by the remote Ganges. Thou God, 
worthy of our veneration, didst smite Pentheus, and the axe- 
bearing Lycurgus,^ sacrilegious mortals; thou didst hurl the 
bodies of the Etrurians into the sea. Thou controllest the 
neck of the lynxes yoked to thy chariot, graced with the 
painted reins. The Bacchanals and the Satyrs follow thee; 
the drunken old man, too, Silenus, who supports his reeling 
limbs with a staff, and sticks by no means very fast to his 
bending ass. And wherever thou goest, the shouts of youths, 
and together the voices of women, and tambourines beaten 
with the hands, and hollow cymbals resound, and the box- 
ing at home, and attending to their domestic concerns, to running 
after the new rites ; on which it was said, by their enemies, that 
Bacchus had punished them. 

^ These names have various meanings, pertaining to attributes of 

2 A king of Thrace, who having slighted the worship of Bacchus, 
was afflicted with madness, and hewed off his own legs with a 
hatchet, and, according to Apollodorus. mistaking his own soil 
Dryas for a vine, destroyed him with the same weapon. 


wood pipe, with its long bore. The Ismenian matrons ask 
thee to show thyself mild and propitious, and celebrate thy 
sacred rites as prescribed. 

The daughters of Minyas alone, within doors, interrupting 
the festival w ith unseasonable labour, are either carding wool, 
or twirling the threads with tlieir fingers, or are plying at 
the web, and keeping the handmaids to their work. One of 
them, as she is drawing the thread with her smooth thumb, 
says, " While others are idling, and thronging to these fanci- 
ful rites, let us, whom Pallas, a better Deity, occupies, alleviate 
the useful toil of our hands with varying discourse; and let 
us relate by turns to our disengaged ears, for the general 
amusement, something each in our turn, that will not permit 
the time to seem long." 

They approve of what she says, and her sisters bid her 
to be the first to tell her story. 

She considers which of many she shall tell (for she knows 
many a one), and she is in doubt whether she shall tell of 
thee, Babylonian Decretis,^ whom the people of Palestine,^ 
believe to inhabit the pools, with thy changed form, scales 
covering thy limbs ; or rather how her daughter, taking wings, 
passed her latter years in whitened turrets ; or how a Naiad,' 
by charms and too potent herbs, changed the bodies of the 
young men into silent fishes, until she suffered the same her- 
self. Or how the tree which bore white fruit formerly, 
now bears it of purple hue, from the contact of blood. 
This story pleases her; this, because it was no common tale, 

^ Atergatis was another name of this Goddess. She was said, by 
an illicit amour, to have been the mother of Semiramis, and in 
despair, to have thrown herself into a lake near Ascalon, on which 
she was changed into a fish. 

2 Palaestina, or Philistia, in which Ascalon was situate, was a part 
of Syria, lying in its southwestern extremity. 

^ The Naiad here mentioned is supposed to have been a Nymph of 
the Island of the Sun, called also Nosola, between Taprobana (the 
modern Ceylon) and the coast of Carmania (perhaps Coromandel), 
who was in the habit of changing such youths as fell into her hands 
into fishes. As a reward for her cruehy, she herself was changed 
into a fish by the Sun. 

418 OVID 

she began in manner such as this, while the wool followed the 
thread : — 

" Pyramus and Thisbe, the one the most beauteous of 
youths, the other preferred before all the damsels that the 
East contained, lived in adjoining houses ; where Semiramis 
is said to have surrounded her lofty city with walls of brick. 
The nearness caused their first acquaintance, and their first 
advances in love; with time their affection increased. They 
would have united themselves, too, by the tie of marriage, but 
their fathers forbade it. A thing which they could not for- 
bid, they were both inflamed, with minds equally captivated. 
There is no one acquainted with it ; by nods and signs, they 
hold converse. And the more the fire is smothered, the more, 
when so smothered, does it burn. The party-wall, common 
to the two houses, was cleft by a small chink, which it had got 
formerly, when it was built. This defect, remarked by no 
one for so many ages, you lovers (what does not love per- 
ceive?) first found one, and you made it a passage for your 
voices, and the accents of love used to pass through it in 
safety, with the gentlest murmur. Oftentimes, after they had 
taken their stations, Thisbe on one side, and Pyramus on the 
other, and the breath of their mouths had been mutually 
caught by turns they used to say, * Envious wall, why dost thou 
stand in the way of lovers? what great matter were it, for thee 
to suffer us to be joined with our entire bodies? Or if that 
is too much, that, at least, thou shouldst open, for the ex- 
change of kisses. Nor are we ungrateful; we confess that 
we are indebted to thee, that a passage has been given for our 
words to our lovings ears.' Having said thus much, in vain, 
on their respective sides, about night they said, * Farewell ; ' 
and gave those kisses each on their own side, which did not 
reach the other side. 

" The following morning had removed the fires of the 
night, and the Sun, with his rays, had dried the grass wet 
with rime, when they met together at the wonted spot. Then, 
first complaining much in low murmurs, they determine, in 
the silent night, to try to deceive their keepers, and to steal 
out of doors ; and when they have left the house, to quit the 
buildings of the city as well; but that they may not have to 


wander, roaming in the open fields, to meet at the tomb of 
Niniis,^ and to conceal themselves beneath the shade of a tree. 
There was there a lofty mulberry tree, very full of snow-white 
fruit, quite close to a cold spring. The arrangement suits 
them ; and the light, seeming to depart but slowly, is buried 
in the waters, and from the same waters the night arises. The 
clever Thisbe, turning the hinge, gets out in the dark, and 
deceives her attendants, and, having covered her face, arrives 
at the tomb, and sits down under the tree agreed upon ; love 
made her bold. Lo! a lioness approaches, having her foam- 
ing jaws besmeared with the recent slaughter of oxen, about 
to quench her thirst with the water of the neighbouring spring. 
The Babylonian Thisbe sees her at a distance, by the rays of 
the moon, and with a trembling foot she flies to a dark cave ; 
and while she flies, her veil falling from her back, she leaves 
it behind. When the savage lioness has quenched her thirst 
with plenteous water, as she is returning into the woods, she 
tears the thin covering, found by chance without Thisbe her- 
self, with her blood-stained mouth. 

" Pyramus, going out later than Thisbe, saw the evident 
foot-marks of a wild beast, in the deep dust, and grew pale 
all over his face. But, as soon as he found her veil, as well, 
dyed with blood, he said ; * One night will be the ruin of two 
lovers, of whom she was the most deserving of a long life. 
My soul is guilty; 'tis I that have destroyed thee, much to 
be lamented ; who bade thee to come by night to places full of 
terror, and came not hither first. O, whatever lions are 
lurking beneath this rock, tear my body in pieces, and devour 
my accursed entrails with ruthless jaws. But it is the part of 
a coward to wish for death.' He takes up the veil of Thisbe, 
and he takes it with himself to the shade of the tree agreed 
on, and, after he has bestowed tears on the well-known gar- 
ment, he gives kisses to the same, and he says, * Receive, now, 
a draught of my blood as well ! ' and then plunges the sword, 

^ According to Diodorus Siculus, the sepulchre of Ninus, the first 
king of Babylon, was ten stadia in length, and nine in depth : it had 
the appearance of a vast citadel, and was at a considerable distance 
from the city of Babylon. 

420 OVID 

with which he is girt, into his bowels ; and without delay, as he 
is dying, he draws it out of the warm wound. As he falls on 
his back upon the ground, the blood spirts forth on high, no 
otherwise than as when a pipe is burst on the lead decaying, 
and shoots out afar the liquid water from the hissing flaw, 
and cleaves the air with its jet. The fruit of the tree, by the 
sprinkling of the blood, are changed to a dark tint, and the 
root, soaked with the gore, tints the hanging mulberries with 
a purple hue. Behold ! not yet having banished her fear, 
Thisbe returns, that she may not disappoint her lover, and 
seeks for the youth both with her eyes and her affection, and 
longs to tell him how great dangers she has escaped. And 
when she observes the spot, and the altered appearance of 
the tree, she doubts if it is the same, so uncertain does the 
colour of the fruit make her. While she is in doubt, she sees 
the palpitating limbs throbbing upon the bloody ground; she 
draws back her foot, and having her face paler than box- 
wood, she shudders like the sea, which trembles when its 
surface is skimmed by a gentle breeze. But, after pausing 
a time, she had recognized her own lover, she smote her arms, 
undeserving of such usage, and tearing her hair, and embrac- 
ing the much-loved body, she filled the gashes with her tears, 
and mingled her tokens of sorrow with his blood ; and im- 
printing kisses on his cold features, she exclaimed, ' Pyramus ! 
what disaster has taken thee away from me? Pyramus! 
answer me; 'tis thy own Thisbe, dearest, that calls thee; 
hear me, and raise thy prostrate features.' 

" At the name of Thisbe Pyramus raised his eyes, now 
heavy with death, and, after he had seen her, he closed them 
again. After she had perceived her own garment, and be- 
held, too, the ivory sheath without its sword, she said, ' 'Tis 
thy own hand, and love, that has destroyed thee, ill-fated 
youth ! I, too, have a hand bold enough for this one purpose ; 
I have love as well ; this shall give me strength for the wound. 
I will follow thee in thy death, and I shall be called the most 
unhappy cause and companion of thy fate ; and thou who, alas ! 
couldst be torn from me by death alone, shalt not be able, 
even by death, to be torn from me. And you, O most 
wretched parents of mine and his, be but prevailed upon, in 


this one thing, by the entreaties of us both, that you will not 
deny those whom their constant love and whom their last 
moments have joined, to be buried in the same tomb. But 
thou, O tree, which now with thy boughs dost overshadow 
the luckless body of but one, art fated soon to cover those 
of two. Retain a token of this our fate, and ever bear fruit 
black and suited for mourning, as a memorial of the blood of 
us two.' Thus she said; and having fixed the point under 
the lower part of her breast, she fell upon the sword, which 
still was reeking with his blood. 

" Her prayers, however, moved the Gods, and moved their 
parents. For the colour of the fruit, when it has fully 
ripened, is black ; ^ and what was left of them, from the 
funeral pile, reposed in the same urn." 


The Sun discovers to Vulcan the intrigue between Mars and 
Venus, and then, himself, falls in love with Leucothoe. 
Venus, in revenge for the discovery, resolves to make his 
amours unfortunate. 

Here she ended ; and there was but a short time betwixt, 
and then Leuconoe began to speak. Her sisters held their 
peace. " Love has captivated even this Sun, who rules all 
things by his rethereal light. I will relate the loves of the 
Sun. This God is supposed to have been the first to see the 
adultery of Venus with Mars ; this God is the first to see every 
thing. He was grieved at what was done, and showed to 
the husband, the son of Juno, the wrong done to his bed, and 
the place of the intrigue. Both his senses, and the work 
which his skilful right hand was then holding, quitted him on 
the instant. Immediately, he files out some slender chains of 
brass, and nets, and meshes, w'hich can escape the eye. The 
finest threads cannot surpass that work, nor yet the cobweb 

^ Ovid thus accounts for the deep purple hue of the mulberry: 
which, before the event mentioned here, he says was white. 

422 OVID 

that hangs from the top of the beam. He makes it so, too, 
as to yield to a slight touch, and gentle movement, and skil- 
fully arranges it, drawn around the bed. When the wife and 
the gallant come into the same bed. being both caught through 
the artifice of the husband, and chains prepared by this new 
contrivance, they are held fast in the very midst of their 

" The Lemnian God immediately threw open the folding 
doors of ivory, and admitted the Deities. There they lay 
disgracefully bound. And yet many a one of the Gods, not 
the serious ones, could fain wish thus to become disgraced. 
The Gods of heaven laughed, and for a long time was this 
the most noted story in all heaven. The Cytherean ^ goddess 
exacts satisfaction of the Sun, in remembrance of this be- 
trayal; and, in her turn, disturbs him with the like passion, 
who had disturbed her secret amours. What now, son of 
Hyperion,- does thy beauty, thy heat, and thy radiant light 
avail thee ? For thou, who dost burn all lands with thy flames, 
art now burnt with a new flame ; and thou, who oughtst to be 
looking at everything, art gazing on Leucothoe, and on one 
maiden art fixing those eyes which thou oughtst to be fixing 
on the universe. At one time thou art rising earlier in the 
Eastern sky; at another thou art setting late in the weaves; 
and in taking time to gaze on her, thou art lengthening the 
hours of mid-winter. Sometimes thou art eclipsed, and the 
trouble of thy mind affects thy light, and, darkened, thou 
fillest with terror the breasts of mortals. Nor art thou pale, 
because the form of the moon, nearer to the earth, stands in 
thy way. It is that passion which occasions this complexion. 
Thou lovest her alone, neither does Clymene, nor Rhodos,^ 

^ Cythera was an island on the southern coast of Laconia ; where 

Venus was supposed to have landed, after she had risen from the 

sea. It was dedicated to her worship. 

2 Hyperion was the son of Ccelus or Uranus, and the father of the 

Sun. The name is, however, often given by the poets to the Sun 


* A damsel of the Isle of Rhodes, the daughter of Neptune, and, 

according to some, of Venus. She was greatly beloved by Apollo, 

to whom she bore seven children. 


nor the most beauteous mother ^ of the ^sean Circe engage 
thee, nor yet Clytie, who, though despised, was longing for 
thy embraces; at that very time thou wast suffering these 
grievous pangs. Leucothoe occasioned the forgetting of 
many a damsel ; she, whom Eurynome, the most beauteous of 
the perfume-bearing nation " produced. But after her daugh- 
ter grew up, as much as the mother excelled all other Nymphs, 
so much did her daughter excel the mother. Her father, 
Orchamus, ruled over the Achasmenian ^ cities, and he is 
reckoned the seventh in descent from the ancient Belus. 

" The pastures of the horses of the Sun are under the 
Western sky; instead of grass, they have ambrosia. That 
nourishes their limbs wearied with their daily service, and 
refits them for labour. And while the coursers are there 
eating their heavenly food, and night is taking her turn ; the 
God enters the beloved chamber, changed into the shape of 
her mother Eurynome, and beholds Leucothoe among twice 
six handmaids, near the threshold, drawing out the smooth 
threads with her twirling spindle. When, therefore, as 
though her mother, he has given kisses to her dear daughter, 
he says, ' There is a secret matter, which I have to mention ; 
maids, withdraw, and take not from a mother the privilege of 
speaking in private with her daughter.' They obey; and 
the God being left in the chamber without any witness, he 
says, * I am he, who measures out the long year, who beholds 
all things, and through whom the earth sees all things ; the 
eye, in fact, of the universe. Believe me, thou art pleasing to 

" She is affrighted ; and in her alarm, both her distaff and 
her spindle fall from her relaxed fingers. Her very fear 
becomes her; and he, no longer delaying, returns to his true 
shape, and his wonted beauty. But the maiden, although star- 

^ Persa, the daughter of Oceanus, and the mother of the enchan- 
tress Circe, who is here called " ^^a," from ^asa, a city and penin- 
sula of Colchis. 
2 Arabia. 

^ Persia is called Achasmenia, from Achaemenes, one of its former 

XI— 28 

424 OVID 

tied at the unexpected sight, overcome by the beauty of the 
God, and dismissing all complaints, submits to his embrace. 


Clytie, in a at of revenge, discovers the adventure of Leu- 
cothoe to her father, zvho orders her to be buried alive. 
The Sun, grieved at her misfortune, changed her into the 
frankincense tree; he also despises the informer, zvho pines 
aivay for love of him, and is at last changed into the 

Clytie envied her, (for the love of the Sun for her had 
not been moderate), and, urged on by resentment at a rival, 
she published the intrigue, and, when spread abroad, brought 
it to the notice of her father. He, fierce and unrelenting, 
cruelly buried her alive deep in the ground, as she entreated 
and stretched out her hands towards the light of the Sun, and 
cried, " 'Twas he that offered violence to me against my will ; " 
and upon her he placed a heap of heavy sand. The son of 
Hyperion scattered it with his rays, and gave a passage to thee, 
by which thou mightst be able to put forth thy buried fea- 

But thou, Nymph, couldst not now raise thy head smoth- 
ered with the weight of the earth ; and there thou didst lie, a 
lifeless body. The governor of the winged steeds is said to 
have beheld nothing more afiflicting than that, since the light- 
nings that caused the death of Phaeton. He, indeed, en- 
deavours, if he can, to recall her cold limbs to an enlivening 
heat, by the strength of his rays. But, since fate opposes 
attempts so great, he sprinkles both her body and the place 
with odoriferous nectar, and having first uttered many a 
complaint he says, " Still shalt thou reach the skies." ^ Im- 
mediately, the body, steeped in the heavenly nectar, dissolves, 
and moistens the earth with its odoriferous juices ; and a shoot 

* That is to say, " You shall arise from the earth as a tree bearing 
frankincense: the gums of which, burnt in sacrifice to the Gods, 
shall reach the heavens with their sweet odours." 


of frankincense having taken root by degrees through the 
clods, rises up and bursts the hillock with its top. 

But the author of light came no more to Clytie (although 
love might have excused her grief, and her grief the be- 
trayal) ; and he put an end to his intercourse with her. From 
that time she, who had made so mad a use of her passion, 
pinned away, loathing the other Nymphs; and in the open 
air, night and day, she sat on the bare ground, with her hair 
dishevelled and unadorned. And for nine days, without 
water or food, she subsisted in her feast, merely on dew and 
her own tears ; and she did not raise herself from the ground. 
She only used to look towards the face of the God as he 
moved along, and to turn her own features towards him. 
They say that her limbs became rooted fast in the ground; 
and a livid paleness turned part of her colour into that of a 
bloodless plant. There is a redness in some part; and a 
flower, very like a violet,^ conceals her face. Though she 
is held fast by a root, she turns towards the Sun, and though 
changed, she still retains her passion. 


Daphnis is turned into a stone. Scython is changed from a 
man into a woman. Celmiis is changed into adamant. 
Crocus and Smilax are made into flo-wers. The Curetes 
are produced from a shower. 

Thus she spoke; and the w^ondrous deed charms their 
ears. Some deny that it was possible to be done, some say 
that real Gods can do all things ; but Bacchus is not one of 
them. When her sisters have become silent, Alcithoe is 
called upon; w^ho running with her shuttle through the warp 
of the hanging web, says, " I keep silence upon the well- 
known amours of Daphnis, the shepherd of Ida, whom the 
resentment of the Nymph, his paramour, turned into a stone. 

^ Probably the small aromatic flower which we call heliotrope, with 
its violet hue and delightful perfume. 

426 OVID 

Such mighty grief inflames those who are in love. Nor 
do I relate how once Scython, the law of nature being altered, 
was of both sexes, first a man, then a woman. Thee too, I 
pass by, O Celmus, now adamant, formerly most attached to 
Jupiter when little ; and the Curetes,^ sprung from a plenteous 
shower of rain; Crocus, too, changed, together with Smilax, 
into little flowers; and I will entertain your minds with a 
pleasing novelty. 


The Naiad Salmacis falls in love with the youth Hcrmaphro- 
ditus, who rejects her advances. While he is bathing, she 
leaps into the water, and seising the youth in her arms, they 
become one body, retaining their different sexes. 

Learn how Salmacis became infamous, and why it ener- 
vates, with its enfeebling waters, and softens the limbs bathed 
in it. The cause is unknown; but the properties of the foun- 
tain are very well known. The Naiads nursed a boy, born to 
Mercury of the Cytherean Goddess in the caves of Ida; whose 
face was such that therein both mother and father could be 
discerned ; he likewise took his name from them. As soon 
as he had completed thrice five years, he forsook his native 
mountains, and leaving Ida, the place of his nursing, he loved 
to wander over unknown spots, and to see unknown rivers, 
his curiosity lessening the fatigue. He went, too, to the 
Lycian cities, and the Carians, that border upon Lycia. Here 
he sees a pool of water, clear to the very ground at the bot- 
tom ; here there are no fenny reeds, no barren sedge, no rushes 
with their sharp points. The water is translucent; but the 
edges of the pool are enclosed with green turf, and with grass 
ever verdant. A Nymph dwells there ; but one neither skilled 
in hunting, nor accustomed to bend the bow, nor to contend 
in speed ; the only one, too, of all the Naiads not known to the 
swift Diana. The report is, that her sisters often said to her, 
" Salmacis, do take either the javelin, or the painted quiver, 

^ The ancient inhabitants of Crete. 


and unite thy leisure with the toils of the chase." She takes 
neither the javelin, nor the painted quiver, nor does she unite 
her leisure with the toils of the chase. But sometimes she 
is bathing her beauteous limbs in her own spring; and often 
is she straitening her hair with a comb of Citorian boxwood,^ 
and consulting the waters, into which she looks, what is befit- 
ting her. At other times, covering her body with a transpar- 
ent garment, she reposes either on the soft leaves, or on the 
soft grass. Ofttimes is she gathering flowers. And then, 
too, by chance was she gathering them when she beheld the 
youth, and wished to possess him, thus seen. 

But though she hastened to approach the youth, still she 
did not approach him before she had put herself in order, and 
before she had surveyed her garments, and put on her best 
looks, and deserved to be thought beautiful. Then thus did 
she begin to speak : " O youth, most worthy to be thought to 
be a God! if thou art a God, thou mayst well be Cupid; but, 
if thou art a mortal, happy are they who begot thee, and 
blessed is thy brother, and fortunate indeed thy sister, if thou 
hast one, and the nurse as well who gave thee the breast. 
But far, far more fortunate than all these is she; if thou hast 
any wife, if thou shouldst vouchsafe any one the honour of 
marriage. And if any one is thy wife, then let my pleasure 
be stolen ; but, if thou hast none, let me be thy wife, and 
let us unite in one tie." After these things said, the Naiad 
is silent ; a blush tinges the face of the youth : he knows not 
what love is, but even to blush becomes him. Such is the 
colour of apples, hanging on a tree exposed to the sun, or of 
painted ivory, or of the moon blushing beneath her brightness, 
when the aiding cymbals^ of brass are resounding in vain. 
Upon the Nymph desiring, without ceasing, such kisses at 
least as he might give to his sister, and now laying her hands 

^ A mountain of Paphlagonia, famous for the excellence of the wood 
of the box trees that grow there. 

^ At an eclipse it was supposed by the multitude that the moon was 
being' subjected to spells of magicians, and that she was struggling 
against them, on which drums, trumpets, and cymbals were resorted 
to, to drown the charms repeated by the enchanters. 

428 OVID 

upon his neck, white as ivory, he says, " Wilt thou desist, or 
am I to fly, and to leave this place, together with thee? " 

Salmacis is affrighted, and says, " I freely give up this 
spot to thee, stranger," and, with a retiring step, she pretends 
to go away. But then looking back, and hid in a covert of 
shrubs, she lies concealed, and puts her bended knees down 
to the ground. But he, just like a boy, and as though unob- 
served on the retired sward, goes here and there, and in the 
sportive waves dips the soles of his feet, and then his feet as 
far as his ankles. Nor is there any delay; being charmed 
with the temperature of the pleasant waters, he throws off his 
soft garments from his tender body. Then, indeed, Salmacis 
is astonished, and burns with desire for his naked beauty. 
The eyes, too, of the Nymph are on fire, no otherwise than 
as when the Sun, most brilliant with his clear orb, is reflected 
from the opposite image of a mirror. With difficulty does 
she endure delay; hardly does she now defer her joy. Now 
she longs to embrace him ; and now, distracted, she can hardly 
contain herself. He, clapping his body with his hollow palms, 
swiftly leaps into the stream, and throwing out his arms alter- 
nately, shines in the limpid waters, as if any one were to cover 
statues of ivory, or white lilies, with clear glass. 

" I have gained my point," says the Naiad ; " see, he is 
mine ! " and, all her garments thrown aside, she plunges in 
the midst of the waters, and seizes him resisting her, and 
snatches reluctant kisses, and thrusts down her hands, and 
touches his breast against his will, and clings about the youth, 
now one way, and now another. Finally, as he is struggling 
against her, and desiring to escape, she entwines herself about 
him, like a serpent which the royal bird takes up and is bear- 
ing aloft ; and as it hangs, it holds fast his head and feet, and 
enfolds his spreading wings with its tail. Or, as the ivy is 
wont to wind itself along the tall trunks of trees; and as the 
polypus holds fast its enemy, caught beneath the waves, by let- 
ting down its suckers on all sides; so does the descendant of 
Atlas still persist, and deny the Nymph the hoped-for joy. She 
presses him hard ; and clinging to him with every limb, as she 
holds fast, she says, " Struggle as thou mayst, perverse one, 
still thou shalt not escape. So ordain it, ye Gods, and let no 


time separate him from me, nor me from him." Her prayers 
find propitious Deities, for the mingled bodies of the two are 
united, and one human shape is put upon them ; just as if any- 
one should see branches beneath a common bark join in grow- 
ing", and spring up together. So, when their bodies meet 
together in the fimi embrace, they are no more two, and their 
form is two-fold, so that they can neither be styled woman 
nor boy; they seem to be neither and both. 

Therefore, when Hermaphroditus sees that the limpid wa- 
ters into which he has descended as a man, have made him 
but half a male, and that his limbs are softened in them, hold- 
ing up his hands, he says, but now no longer with the voice 
of a male, " O, both father and mother, grant this favour to 
your son, who has the name of you both, that whoever enters 
these streams a man, may go out thence but half a man, and 
that he may suddenly become effeminate in the waters when 
touched." Both parents, moved, give their assent to the words 
of their two-shaped son, and taint the fountain with drugs 
of ambiguous quality. 


Bacchus, to punish the daughters of Minyas for their con- 
tempt of his worship, changes them into hats, and their 
work into ivy and vine leaves. 

There was now an end of their stories; and still do the 
daughters of Minyas go on with their work, and despise the 
God, and desecrate his festival; when, on a sudden, tambou- 
rines unseen resound with their jarring noise; the pipe, too, 
with the crooked horn, and the tinkling brass, re-echo ; myrrh 
and saffron shed their fragrant odours; and, a thing past all 
belief, their webs begin to grow green, and the cloth hanging 
in the loom to put forth foliage like ivy. Part changes into 
vines, and what were threads before, are now turned into vine 
shoots. Vine branches spring from the warp, and the pur- 
ple lends its splendour to the tinted grapes. 

And now the day was past, and the time came on, which 
you could neither call darkness nor light, but yet the very 

430 OVID 

commencement of the dubious night along with the light. 
The house seemed suddenly to shake, and unctuous torches to 
burn, and the building to shine with glowing fires, and the 
fictitious phantoms of savage wild beasts to howl. Presently, 
the sisters are hiding themselves throughout the smoking 
house, and In different places are avoiding the fires and the 
light. While they are seeking a hiding place, a membrane 
is stretched over their small limbs, and covers their arms 
with light wings ; nor does the darkness suffer them to know 
by what means they have lost their former shape. No feath- 
ers bear them up; yet they support themselves on pellucid 
wings; and, endeavouring to speak, they utter a voice very 
diminutive even in proportion to their bodies, and express 
their low complaints with a squeaking sound. They fre- 
quent houses, not woods ; and, abhorring the light, they fly 
abroad by night. And from the late evening do they derive 
their name.^ 


Tisi phone, being sent by Juno to the Palace of Athamas, 
causes him to become mad; on which he dashes his son 
Learchiis to pieces against a wall. He then pursues his 
wife Ino, zvho throzvs herself headlong from the top of a 
rock into the sea, with her other son Melicerta in her arms: 
when Neptune, at the intercession of Venus, changes them 
into Sea Deities. The attendants of Ino, who have fol- 
lowed her in her flight, are changed, some into stone, and 
others into birds, as they are about to throw themselves 
into the sea after their mistress. 

But then the Divine power of Bacchus is framed through- 
out all Thebes; and his aunt [Ino] is everywhere telling of 
the great might of the new Divinity; she alone," out of so 

^ Vespertiliones, from vesper, evening. 

2 Semele having died a shocking death, Autonoe having seen her 

son Actason changed into a stag, and then devoured by his dogs, 

and Agave having assisted in tearing to pieces her own son Pen- 



many sisters, is free from sorrow, except that which her 
sisters have occasioned. Juno beholds her, having her soul 
elevated with her children, and her alliance with Athamas, 
and the God her fosterchild. She cannot brook this, and says 
to herself, "Was the child of a concubine able to transform 
the Mseonian sailors, and to overwhelm them in the sea, and 
to give the entrails of the son to be torn to pieces by his 
mother, and to cover the three daughters of Minyas with 
newly formed wings? Shall Juno be able to do nothing but 
lament these griefs unrevenged? And is that sufficient for 
me? Is this my only power ? He himself instructs me what 
to do. It is right to be taught even by an enemy. And what 
madness can do, he shows enough, and more than enough, by 
the slaughter of Pentheus. Why should not Ino, too, be 
goaded by madness, and submit to an example kindred to 
those of her sisters?" 

There is a shelving path, shaded with dismal yew, which 
leads through profound silence to the infernal abodes. Here 
languid Styx exhales vapours; and the new-made ghosts 
descend this way, and phantoms when they have enjoyed 
funereal rites. Horror and winter possess these dreary 
regions far and wide, and the ghosts newly arrived know not 
where the way is that leads to the Stygian city, or where is 
the dismal palace of the black Pluto. The wide city has a 
thousand passages, and gates open on every side. And as the 
sea receives the rivers for the whole earth, so does that spot 
receive all the souls; nor is it too little for any amount of 
people, nor does it perceive the crowd to increase. The 
shades wander about, bloodless, without body and bones; 
and some throng the place of judgment; some the abode of 
the infernal prince. Some pursue various callings, in imita- 
tion of their former life; their own punishment confines 

Juno, the daughter of Saturn, leaving her celestial habita- 
tion, submits to go thither, so much does she give way to 
hatred and to anger. Soon as she has entered there, and the 
threshold groans, pressed by her sacred body, Cerberus raises 
his threefold mouth, and utters triple barkings at the same 

432 OVID 

She summons the Sisters/ begotten of Night, terri- 
ble and implacable Goddesses. They are sitting before the 
doors of the prison shut close with adamant, and are comb- 
ing black vipers from their hair. Soon as they recognize her 
amid the shades of darkness, these Deities arise. This place 
is called " the accursed." Tityus - is giving his entrails to be 
mangled, and is stretched over nine acres. By thee, Tan- 
talus,^ no waters are reached, and the tree which overhangs 
thee, starts away. Sisyphus,* thou art either catching or thou 
art pushing on the stone destined to fall again. Ixion^ is 
whirled round, and both follows and flies from himself. The 
grand-daughters, too, of Belus, who dared to plot the destruc- 
tion of their cousins, are everlastingly taking up the water 
which they lose. After the daughter of Saturn has beheld 

^ These were the Furies, fabled to be the daughters of Night and 
Acheron. They were three in number, Tisiphone, Alecto, and Me- 
gaera, and were supposed to be the avengers of crime and wickedness. 
2 Tityus was the son of Jupiter and Elara. On account of his enor- 
mous size, the poets sometimes style him a son of the Earth. At- 
tempting to commit violence upon Latona, he was slain by the 
arrows of Apollo, and precipitated to the infernal regions, where 
he was condemned to have his liver constantly devoured by a vul- 
ture, and then renewed, to perpetuate his torments. 
^ He was the son of Jupiter, by the Nymph Plote. The crime for 
which he was punished is differently related by the poets. At an 
entertainment which he gave to the Deities, he caused his own son, 
Pelops, to be served up, on which Ceres inadvertently ate his shoul- 
der. He was doomed to suffer intense hunger and thirst, amid pro- 
visions of all kinds within his reach, which perpetually receded 
from him. 

* Sisyphus, the son of ^olus, was a daring robber, who infested 
Attica. He was slain by Theseus; and being sent to the infernal 
regions, was condemned to the punishment of rolling a great stone 
to the top of a mountain, which it had no sooner reached than 
it fell down again, and renewed his labour. 

^ Being advanced by Jupiter to heaven, he presumed to make an 
attempt on Juno. Jupiter, to deceive him, formed a cloud in her 
shape, on which Ixion begot the Centaurs. He was cast into Tar- 
tarus, and was there fastened to a wheel, which turned round in- 


all these with a stern look, and Ixion before all; again, after 
him, looking upon Sisyphus, she says, " Why does he alone, 
of all the brothers, suffer eternal punishment? and why does a 
rich palace contain the proud Athamas, who, with his wife, 
has ever despised me?" And then she explains the cause of 
her hatred and of her coming, and what it is she desires. 
What she desires is, that the palace of Cadmus shall not 
stand, and that the Sister Furies shall involve Athamas in 
crime. She mingles together promises, commands, and en- 
, treaties, and solicits the Goddesses. When Juno has thus 
spoken, Tisiphone, with her locks dishevelled as they are, 
shakes them, and throws back from her face the snakes crawl- 
ing over it; and thus she says: "There is no need of a long 
preamble ; whatever thou commandest, consider it as done ; 
leave these hateful realms, and betake thyself to the air of a 
better heaven." 

Juno returns, overjoyed; and, preparing to enter heaven, 
Iris,^ the daughter of Thaumas, purifies her by sprinkling 
water. Nor is there any delay; the persecuting Tisiphone 
takes a torch reeking with gore, and puts on a cloak red with 
fluid blood, and is girt with twisted snakes, and then goes 
forth from her abode. Mourning attends her as she goes, 
and Fright, and Terror, and Madness with quivering features. 
She now reaches the threshold; the ^olian door-posts are 
said to have shaken, and paleness tints the maple door; the 
Sun, too, flies from the place. His wife is terrified at these 
prodigies ; Athamas, too, is alarmed, and they are both pre- 
paring to leave the house. The baneful Erinnys stands in the 
way, and blocks up the passage; and extending her arms 
twisted round with folds of vipers, she shakes her locks ; the 
snakes thus moved, emit a sound. Some lying about her 
shoulders, some gliding around her temples, send forth hiss- 
ings and vomit forth corruption, and dart forth their tongues. 
Then she tears away two snakes from the middle of her hair, 
which, with pestilential hand, she throws against them. But 
these creep along the breasts of Ino and Athamas, and inspire 
them with direful intent. Nor do they inflict any wounds 

^ The Goddess of the Rainbow. 

434 OVID 

upon their limbs; it is the mind that feels the direful stroke. 
She had brought, too, with her a monstrous composition of 
liquid poison, the foam of the mouth of Cerberus, and the 
venom of Echidna;^ and purposeless aberrations, and the 
forget fulness of a darkened understanding, and crime, and 
tears, and rage, and the love of murder. All these were 
blended together; and, mingled with fresh blood she had 
boiled them in a hollow vessel of brass, stirred about with a 
stalk of green hemlock. And while they are trembling, she 
throws the maddening poison into the breasts of them both, 
and moves their inmost vitals. Then repeatedly waving her 
torch in the same circle, she swiftly follows up the flames thus 
excited with fresh flames. Thus triumphant, and having 
executed her commands, she returns to the empty realms of 
the great Pluto; and she ungirds the snakes which she had 
put on. 

Immediately the son of ^Eolus, filled with rage, cries out, 
in the midst of his palace, "Ho! companions, spread your 
nets in this wood; for here a lioness was just now beheld 
by me with two young ones." And, in his madness, he fol- 
lows the footsteps of his wife, as though of a wild beast; and 
he snatches Learchus, smiling and stretching forth his little 
arms from the bosom of his mother, and three or four times 
he whirls him round in the air like a sling, and, frenzied, he 
dashes in pieces ^ the bones of the infant against the hard 
stones. Then, at last, the mother being roused (whether it 
was grief that caused it, or whether the power of the poison 
spread over her), yells aloud, and runs away distracted, with 
dishevelled hair ; and carrying thee, Melicerta, a little child, in 
her bare arms, she cries aloud " Evoe, Bacche." At the name 
of Bacchus, Juno smiles, and says, " May thy foster-child ^ do 
thee this service." 

1 The Hydra, or dragon of the marsh of Lerna, which Hercules 
slew. It was fabled to be partly a woman, and partly a serpent, 
and to have been begotten by Typhon. According to some accounts, 
this monster had seven heads. 

- Athamas slew his son while hunting, mistaking him for a stag. 
' Bacchus was the foster-child of Ino, who was the sister of his 
mother Semele. 


There is a rock that hangs over the sea ; the lowest part 
is worn hollow by the waves, and defends the waters covered 
thereby from the rain. The summit is rugged, and stretches 
out its brow over the open sea. This Ino climbs (madness 
gives her strength), and, restrained by no fear, she casts her- 
self and her burden ^ into the deep ; the water, struck by 
her fall, is white with foam. But Venus, pitying the mis- 
fortunes of her guiltless grand-daughter, in soothing words 
thus addresses her uncle: "O Neptune, thou God of the 
waters, to whom fell a power next after the empire of heaven, 
great things indeed do I request; but do thou take compas- 
sion on my kindred, whom thou seest being tossed upon the 
boundless Ionian sea; and add them to thy Deities. I have 
surely some interest with the sea, if, indeed, I once was foam 
formed in the hallowed deep, and my Grecian name' is de- 
rived from that." Neptune yields to her request ; and takes 
away from them all that is mortal, and gives them a vener- 
able majesty; and alters both their name and their shape, and 
calls Palsemon a Divinity, together with his mother Leu- 

Her Sidonian attendants,^ so far as they could, tracing 
the prints of their feet, saw the last of them on the edge of 
the rock; and thinking that there was no doubt of their 
death, they lamented the house of Cadmus, with their hands 
tearing their hair and their garments ; and they threw the 
odium on the Goddess, as being unjust and too severe against 
the concubine. Juno could not endure their reproaches, and 
said, " I will make you yourselves tremendous memorials of 
my displeasure." Confirmation followed her words. For 
the one who had been especially attached, said, " I will fol- 
low the queen into the sea;" and about to give the leap, she 
could not be moved any way, and adhering to the rock, there 

^ This was her son Melicerta, who, according to Pausanias, was re- 
ceived by dolphins, and was landed by them on the isthmus of Cor- 

2 Aphrodite means " foam-sprung." 

" The Theban matrons are meant, who had married the companions 
of Cadmus that accompanied him from Phoenicia. 

436 OVID 

she stuck fast. Another, while she was attempting to beat 
her breast with the accustomed blows, perceived in the at- 
tempt that her arms had become stiff. One, as by chance she 
had extended her hands over the waters of the sea, becoming 
a rock, held out her hands in those same waters. You might 
see the fingers of another suddenly hardened in her hair, as 
she was tearing her locks seized on the top of her head. In 
whatever posture each was found at the beginning of the 
change, in the same she remained. Some became birds; 
which, sprung from Ismenus, skim along the surface of the 
waves in those seas, with the wings which they have assumed. 


The misfortunes of his family oblige Cadmus to leave Thebes, 
and to retire zvith his wife Hermione to Illyria, where they 
are changed into serpents. 

The son of Agenor knows not that his daughter and his 
little grandsons are now Deities of the sea. Forced by sor- 
row, and a succession of calamities, and the prodigies which, 
many in number, he had beheld, the founder flies from his 
city, as though the ill-luck of the spot, and not his own, 
pressed hard upon him; and driven, in a long series of wan- 
dering, he reaches the coast of Illyria, with his exiled wife. 
And now, loaded with woes and with years, while they are 
reflecting on the first disasters of their house, and in their 
discourse are recounting their misfortunes, Cadmus says,. 
" Was that dragon a sacred one, that was pierced by my spear, 
at the time when, setting out from Sidon, I sowed the teeth 
of the dragon in the ground, a seed till then unknown? If 
the care of the Gods avenges this with resentment so unerring, 
I pray that I myself, as a serpent, may be lengthened out into 
an extended belly." Thus he says; and, as a serpent, he is 
lengthened out into an extended belly, and perceives scales 
growing on his hardened skin, and his black body become 
speckled with azure spots ; and he falls flat on his breast, and 
his legs, joined into one, taper out by degrees into a thin round 
point. His arms are still remaining; those arms which re- 


main he stretches out; and, as the tears are flowing down 
his face, still that of a man, he says, "Come hither, wnie, 
come hither, most unhappy one, and, while something of me 
yet remains, touch me ; and take my hand, while it is still a 
hand, and while I am not a serpent all over." He, indeed, 
desires to say more, but, on a sudden, his tongue is divided 
into two parts. Nor are words in his power when he offers 
to speak; and as often as he attempts to utter any complaints, 
he makes a hissing: this is the voice that Nature leaves him. 
His wife, smiting her naked breast with her hand, cries aloud, 
"Stay, Cadmus! and deliver thyself, unhappy one, from this 
monstrous form. Cadmus, what means this? Where are 
thy feet? where are both thy shoulders and thy hands? where 
is thy colour and thy form, and, while I speak, where all else 
besides ? Why do ye not, celestial Gods, turn me as well into 
a similar serpent?" Thus she spoke; he licked the face of 
his wife, and crept into her dear bosom, as though he 
recognized her ; and gave her embraces, and reached her well- 
known neck. 

Whoever is by, (some attendants are present), is alarmed; 
but the crested snakes soothe them with their slippery necks, 
and suddenly they are two serpents, and in joined folds they 
creep along, until they enter the covert of an adjacent grove. 
Now, too, do they neither shun mankind, nor hurt them with 
wounds, and the gentle serpents keep in mind what once they 


Perseus, the son of Jupiter and Danae, having killed Medusa, 
carries her head into Africa, where the blood that runs 
from it produces serpents. Atlas, king of that country, 
terrified at the remembrance of an oracle, zvhich had fore- 
told that his golden fruit should be taken by one of the 
sons of Jupiter, not only orders him to depart, but even 
resorts to violence to drive him away, on which Perseus 
shows him the Gorgon's head, and changes him into a 

But yet their grandson, Bacchus, gave them both a great 
consolation, under this change of form; whom India, sub- 

XI— 29 

438 OVID 

dued by him, worshipped as a God, and whom Achaia hon- 
oured with erected temples. Acrisius the son of Abas, de- 
scended of the same race, alone remained, to drive him from 
the walls of the Argive city, and to bear arms against the 
God, and to believe him not to be the offspring of Jove. 
Neither did he think Perseus to be the offspring of Jupiter, 
whom Danae had conceived in a shower of gold; but soon 
(so great is the power of truth) Acrisius was sorry, both 
that he had insulted the God, and that he had not acknowl- 
edged his grandson. The one was now placed in heaven, 
while the other, bearing the memorable spoil of the viperous 
monster, cut the yielding air with hissing wings; and while 
the conqueror was hovering over the Libyan sands, bloody 
drops, from the Gorgon's head, fell down, upon receiving 
which, the ground quickened them into various serpents. For 
this cause, that region is filled and infested with snakes. 

Carried thence, by the fitful winds, through boundless 
space, he is borne now here, now there, just like a watery 
cloud, and, from the lofty sky, looks down upon the earth, 
removed afar; and he flies over the whole world. Three 
times he saw the cold Bears, thrice did he see the claws of 
the Crab ; ofttimes he was borne to the West, many a time 
to the East. And now, the day declining, afraid to trust 
himself to the night, he stopped in the Western part of the 
world, in the kingdom of Atlas; and there he sought a little 
rest, until Lucifer should usher forth the fires of Aurora, 
Aurora, the chariot of the day. Here was Atlas, the son of 
lapetus, surpassing all men in the vastness of his body. Un- 
der this king was the extremity of the earth, and the sea 
which holds its waters under the panting horses of the Sun, 
and receives the wearied chariot. For him, a thousand flocks, 
and as many herds, wandered over the pastures, and no neigh- 
bouring places disturbed the land. Leaves of the trees, shin- 
ing with radiant gold, covered branches of gold, and apples 
of gold. "My friend," said Perseus to him, " if the glory of 
a noble race influences thee, Jupiter is the author of my de- 
scent; or if thou art an admirer of exploits, thou wilt admire 
mine. I beg of thee hospitality, and a resting place." The 
other was mindful of an ancient oracle. The Parnassian 


Themis had given this response : " A time will come, Atlas, 
when thy tree shall be stripped of its gold, and a son of 
Jove shall have the honour of the prize." Dreading this, 
Atlas had enclosed his orchard with solid walls, and had given 
it to be kept by a huge dragon; and expelled all strangers 
from his territories. To Perseus, too, he says, " Far hence 
begone, lest the glory of the exploits, to which thou falsely 
pretendest, and Jupiter as well, be far from protecting thee." 
He adds violence as well to his threats, and tries to drive him 
from his doors, as he hesitates and mingles resolute words 
with persuasive ones. Inferior in strength (for who could 
be a match for Atlas in strength !), he says, " Since my friend- 
ship is of so little value to thee, accept this present ; " and then, 
turning his face away, he exposes on the left side the horrible 
features of Aledusa. Atlas, great as he is, becomes a moun- 
tain. Now his beard and his hair are changed into woods; his 
shoulders and his hands become mountain ridges, and what 
was formerly his head, is the summit on the top of the moun- 
tain. His bones become stones ; then, enlarged on every side, 
he grows to an immense height, (so you willed it, ye Gods), 
and the whole heaven, with so many stars, rests upon him. 


Perseus, after his victory over Atlas, and his change into a 
mountain, arrives in Ethiopia, at the time zvhen Androm- 
eda is exposed to be devoured by a monster. He kills 
it, and hides the Gorgon's head under the sand, covered 
with sea zveed and plants; zvhich are immediately turned 
into coral. He then renders thanks to the Gods for his 
victory, and marries Andromeda. At the marriage feast 
he relates the manner in which he had killed Medusa; and 
the reason why Minerva had changed her hair into ser- 

The grandson of Hippotas ^ had shut up the winds in their 
eternal prison; and Lucifer who reminds men of their work, 

1 ^olus, the God of the Winds, was the son of Jupiter, by Acesta, 
the daughter of Hippotas. 

440 OVID 

was risen in the lofty sky, in all his splendour. Resuming 
his wings, Perseus binds his feet with them on either side, and 
is girt with his crooked weapon, and cleaves the liquid air 
with his winged ancles. Nations innumerable being left be- 
hind, around and below, he beholds the people of the Ethio- 
pians and the lands of Cepheus. There the unjust Ammon ^ 
had ordered the innocent Andromeda to suffer punishment for 
her mother's tongue.^ 

Soon as the descendant of Abas beheld her, with her arms 
bound to the hard rock, but that the light breeze was moving 
her hair, and her eyes were running with warm tears, he 
would have thought her to be a work of marble. Uncon- 
sciously he takes fire, and is astonished; captivated with the 
appearance of her beauty, thus beheld, he almost forgets to 
wave his wings in the air. When he has lighted on the 
ground, he says, " O thou, undeserving of these chains, but 
rather of those by which anxious lovers are mutually united, 
disclose to me, inquiring both the name of this land and of 
thyself, and why thou wearest these chains." At first she is 
silent, and, a virgin, she does not dare address a man; and 
with her hands she would have concealed her blushing fea- 
tures, if she had not been bound; her eyes, 'twas all she could 
do, she filled with gushing tears. Upon his often urging her, 
lest she should seem unwilling to confess her offence, she told 
the name both of the country and of herself, and how great 
had been the confidence of her mother in her beauty. All 
not yet being told, the waves roared, and a monster approach- 
ing, appeared with its head raised out of the boundless ocean, 

^Jupiter, with the surname of Ammon, had a temple in the deserts 
of Libya, where he was worshipped under the shape of a ram ; a 
form which he was supposed to have assumed, when, in common 
with the other Deities, he fled from the attacks of the Giants. The 
oracle of Jupiter Ammon being consulted relative to the sea monster, 
which Neptune, at the request of the Nereids, had sent against the 
Ethiopians, answered that Andromeda must be exposed to be de- 
voured by it. 

2 Cassiope, the mother of Andromeda, had dared tp compare her own 
beauty with that of the Nereids. Cepheus, the son of Phoenix, was 
the father of Andromeda. 


and covered the wide expanse with its breast. The virgin 
shrieks aloud; her mournful father, and her distracted mother, 
are there, both wretched, but the latter more justly so. Nor 
do they bring her any help with them, but tears suitable to 
the occasion, and lamentations, and they cling round her body, 
bound to the rock. 

Then thus the stranger says: " Plenty of time will be left 
for your tears hereafter, the season for giving aid is but 
short. If I were to demand her in marriage, I, Perseus, the 
son of Jove, and of her whom, in prison, Jove embraced in 
the impregnating shower of gold, Perseus, the conqueror of 
the Gorgon with her serpent locks, and who has dared, on 
waving wings, to move through the asthereal air, I should 
surely be preferred before all as your son-in-law. To so 
many recommendations I endeavour to add merit' (if only the 
Deities favour me). I only stipulate that she may be mine, 
if preserved by my valour." Her parents embrace the condi- 
tion, (for who could hesitate?) and they entreat his aid, and 
promise as well, the kingdom as a dowry. Behold! as a 
ship onward speeding, with the beak fixed in its prow, ploughs 
the waters, impelled by the perspiring arms of youths; so the 
monster, moving the waves by the impulse of its breast, was as 
far distant from the rocks, as that distance in the mid space 
of air, which a Balearic string can pass with the whirled 
plummet of lead; when suddenly, the youth, spurning the 
earth with his feet, rose on high into the clouds. As the 
shadow of the hero was seen on the surface of the sea, the 
monster vented its fury on the shadow so beheld. And as 
the bird of Jupiter,^ when he has espied on the silent plain a 
serpent exposing its livid back to the sun, seizes it behind; 
and lest it should turn upon him its raging mouth, fixes his 
greedy talons in its scaly neck ; so did the winged hero, in his 
rapid flight through the yielding air, press the back of the 
monster, and the descendant of Inachus thrust his sword up 
to the very hilt in its right shoulder, as it roared aloud. 

Tortured by the grievous wound, it sometimes raises itself 
aloft in the air, sometimes it plunges beneath the waves, some- 

* The eagle was the bird sacred to Jove. 

442 OVID 

times it wheels about, just like a savage boar, which a pack of 
hounds in full cry around him affrights. With swift wings 
he avoids the eager bites of the monster, and, with his crooked 
sword, one while wounds its back covered with hollow shells, 
where it is exposed, at another time the ribs of its sides, and 
now, where its tapering tail terminates in that of a fish. The 
monster vomits forth from its mouth streams mingled with 
red blood ; its wings, made heavy by it, are wet with the spray. 
Perseus, not daring any longer to trust himself on his drip- 
ping pinions, beholds a rock, which with its highest top pro- 
jects from the waters when becalmed, but is now covered 
by the troubled sea. Resting on that, and clinging to the 
upper ridge of the rock with his left hand, three or four 
times he thrusts his sword through its entrails, aimed at by 
him. A shout, with applause, fills the shores and the lofty 
abodes of the Gods. Cassiope and Cepheus, the father, re- 
joice, and salute him as their son-in-law, and confess that he 
is the support and the preserver of their house. 

Released from her chains, the virgin walks along, both the 
reward and the cause of his labours. He himself washes his 
victorious hands in water taken from the sea ; and that it may 
not injure the snake-bearing head with the bare sand, he 
softens the ground with leaves ; and strews some weeds pro- 
duced beneath the sea, and lays upon them the face of 
Medusa, the daughter of Phorcys. The fresh weeds, being 
still alive, imbibed the poison of the monster in their spongy 
pith, and hardened by its touch; and felt an unwonted stiff- 
ness in their branches and their leaves. But the Nymphs of 
the sea attempt the wondrous feat on many other weeds, and 
are pleased at the same result; and raise seed again from 
them scattered on the waves. Even now the same nature 
remains in the coral, that it receives hardness from contact 
with the air; and what was a plant in the sea, out of the sea 
becomes stone. 

To three Deities he erects as many altars of turf; the left 
one to Mercury; the right to thee, warlike Virgin; the altar 
of Jove is in the middle. A cow is sacrificed to Minerva; a 
calf to the wing-footed God, and a bull to thee, greatest of 
the Deities. Forthwith he takes Andromeda, and the reward 


of an achievement so great, without any dowry. Hymenseus 
and Cupid wave their torches before them ; the fires are heaped 
with abundant perfumes. Garlands, too, are hanging from 
the houses ; flageolets and lyres, and pipes, and songs resound, 
the happy tokens of a joyous mind. The folding-doors 
thrown open, the entire gilded halls are displayed, and the 
nobles of king Cepheus sit down at a feast furnished with 
splendid preparations. After they have done the feast, and 
have cheered their minds with the gifts of the generous Bac- 
chus, the grandson of Abas inquires the customs and habits 
of the country. Immediately one of them, Lyncides, tells 
him, on his enquiring, the manners and habits of the inhab- 
itants. Soon as he had told him these things, he said, " Now, 
most valiant Perseus, tell us, I beseech thee, with how great 
valour and by what arts thou didst cut off the head all hairy 
with serpents." The descendant of Abas tells them that there 
is a spot situate beneath cold Atlas, safe in its bulwark of a 
solid mass; that, in the entrance of this, dwelt the two sisters, 
the daughters of Phorcys, who shared the use of a single eye; 
that he stealthily, by sly craft, while it was being handed over, 
obtained possession of this by putting his hand in the way; 
and that through rocks far remote, and pathless, and bristling 
with woods on their craggy sides, he had arrived at the 
abodes of the Gorgons, and saw every where, along the fields 
and the roads, statues of men and wild beasts turned into 
stone, from their natural form, at the sight of Medusa; yet 
that he himself, from the reflection on the brass of the shield 
which his left hand bore, beheld the visage of the horrible 
Medusa; and that, while a sound sleep held her and her ser- 
pents entranced, he took the head from off the neck ; and that 
Pegasus and his brother,^ fleet wnth w^ngs, were produced 
from the blood of her, their mother. He added, too, the 
dangers of his lengthened journey, themselves no fiction ; what 
seas, what lands he had seen beneath him from on high, and 
what stars he had reached with his waving winsfs. 

Yet, before it was expected, he was silent; whereupon one 
of the nobles rejoined, inquiring why she alone, of her sisters, 

^ Pegasus and Chrysaor, the winged horses. 

444 OVID 

wore snakes mingled alternately with her hair. " Stranger," 
said he, " since thou enquirest on a matter worthy to be 
related, hear the cause of the thing thou enquirest after. She 
was the most famed for her beauty, and the coveted hope of 
many wooers ; nor, in the whole of her person, was any part 
more worthy of notice than her hair: I have met with some 
who said they had seen it. The sovereign of the sea is said 
to have deflowered her in the Temple of Minerva. The 
daughter of Jove turned away, and covered her chaste eyes 
with her shield. And that this might not be unpunished, she 
changed the hair of the Gorgon into hideous snakes. Now, 
too, that she may alarm her surprised foes with terror, she 
bears in front upon her breast, those snakes which she thus 


The Classics, Greek 3606 

& Latin. •C6 • 

Latin, vol, 12. v.l2